It seems as though the execs at the NFL Network are trying to circumvent both Comcast and Time Warner Cable, in an attempt to get their product into every home in America. Unfortunately, they will be selling their soul to the devil to get it.
It looks as though the NFL is in talks with ESPN to combine the NFL Network with ESPN Classic. ESPN is siting low ratings for ESPN Classic as a reason they would be interested in this deal. The article states:
One scenario that has been discussed would involve combining the NFL Network with the ESPN Classic network, which has relatively low ratings but wider distribution. ESPN would broadcast eight more games per season on ESPN Classic, and then attempt to wring higher subscription fees than the 16 or 17 cents it currently receives for the channel, according to Derek Baine, a senior analyst for SNL Kagan.
Under such a scenario, ESPN and the NFL could form a joint venture and share revenue, or ESPN could take an equity stake in the channel.
Here in Northern Virginia, both ESPN Classic and NFL Network are both on a "Sports Tier", which I pay extra for each month. This should be the way these channels work, but I digress. I don't understand why ESPN is now complaining about low ratings in primetime on ESPN Classic. The channel used to be fantastic, when it actually showed sports people cared about. Take a look at their schedule: It's all boxing, SportsCentury pieces, Pool, Bowling, and some Countdown lists. It's awful.
I'm guessing when the NFL Network was formed, ESPN lost all its rights to old NFL games, which is why they don't show those anymore. The NFL Network does show those old games, and, personally, that has been the best decision they've made as of yet. It's much better than 7 hours of Total Access.
This is a good news / bad news situation here. I really don't want ESPN infiltrating a competitor for NFL News. I enjoyed watching the draft not on ESPN, which would surely go away. It would also be the return of NFL Primetime, when we don't need more Chris Berman.