NFL Network to offer its own RedZone channel

DirecTV subscribers may be wondering if the NFL Network’s new channel, “NFL RedZone” is the same as the RedZone Channel that is available as part of the Sunday Ticket package. The answer is yes…and no. It’s not the exact same channel. It has a different host and a different studio, but the concept is the same.

The channel will bounce around from game to game to show live action or instant highlights from a multitude of games. I’ve watched the DirecTV version for six hours straight, and it’s a great way for fantasy football enthusiasts to spend a Sunday. I assume that the NFL Network’s version will be just as good.

I have long been critical of the NFL’s decision to make the Sunday TIcket exclusive to DirecTV, largely because I’m a diehard Packer fan living in a California condo with no view of the southern horizon (making me one of the millions of football fans that simply can’t get DirecTV without moving). The DirecTV monopoly exclusive rights extend through 2014, though the package may be available to non-DirecTV subscribers in 2012. I mention the Sunday Ticket debacle because this NFL Network Red Zone channel is a step in the right direction.

Of course, the NFL Network is still at odds with several cable companies — including my carrier, Time Warner — as they haggle over carriage fees for the channel. Actually, “haggle” would imply that the two sides are negotiating. As far as I know, they’ve both walked away from the table.

The cable giant wants to offer NFL Network on a sports tier, while the NFL Network wants the channel to be on the basic tier, which due to its high carriage cost, would have a significant impact on the bottom line and increase cable rates for all subscribers. Essentially, the Network wants every subscriber to pay for the channel even if they don’t want it in their lineup.

It was one thing for Time Warner to walk away from negotiations when the NFL Network only carried eight games in a season, but now that TWC’s subscribers will be missing out on this new Red Zone channel, I’d expect the pressure to strike a deal will be amped up. I, for one, am not pleased that this product is readily available and the 2nd-largest cable company in the country does not offer it. What’s the point of having a monopoly if you aren’t going to use your negotiating power to get what you want?

Between the offering of exclusive rights to Sunday Ticket and the high carriage fees of the NFL Network (and presumably, the new RedZone channel), the NFL is not treating a subsection of its fan base very well.

We just want to watch the games — all of them. Why is the league making it so difficult for fans to consume its product?

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