As if you need to be reminded, Thursday night's NFL game between the New York Jets and New England Patriots is being televised only on the NFL Network, which means you can't watch it if you're a Time Warner Cable customer. Among your options: Go to a bar or find a friend who subscribes to one of the two satellite TV services, DirecTV or Dish Network; listen to the game on radio station 99.9 FM The Fan; or follow the game online via NFL.com's live "look-ins."
The NFL says fans can choose between two video streams. One stream alternates between the NFL Network’s game broadcast and its live studio show. The second video stream complements the first with a "sideline pass," showing alternative camera angles via live look-ins. NFL.com Live also will feature on-demand video, allowing fans to have access to game highlights throughout the broadcast.
TWC and the NFL don't appear to be budging from their positions — the league wants Time Warner to put its network on expanded basic cable, which is cheaper and reaches a much larger audience than a special sports tier. TWC says that, with only eight live games a year, the NFL Network's programming isn't worth the "tens of millions" of dollars the NFL is demanding. Time Warner is still willing to put the NFL Network on a more expensive sports digital tier "at terms that would be fair to our customers," spokeswoman Melissa Buscher says.
In October, FCC Media Bureau Chief Monica Shah Desai determined that the cable company Comcast had discriminated against the NFL Network and improperly demanded a financial interest in the network in exchange for carriage. The bureau chief refused to dismiss the NFL's complaint and ordered a hearing before an administrative law judge.
The NFL claims that Comcast moved the NFL Network from a digital basic tier to a premium sports tier after the league refused to grant rights to the eight live games to Comcast's Versus Network. In contrast, the NFL and Time Warner Cable never reached a deal.