Thursday, November 23, 2006


Our Thanksgiving glow in the Ozarks was made even brighter when we heard that the Kansas City Chiefs would play their rival, the Denver Broncos, on Thanksgiving night. However, as it dawned on us that the game would be on the NFL Network, the glow quickly dimmed.

The NFL Network is available to satellite subscribers, such as DISH network. Cebridge (or SuddenLink or whatever it is calling itself now), Christian County's cable provider, does not offer the network as part of its basic package. It costs a cable company 20 cents per subscriber to air the network. But the network wants more: It's trying to leverage broadcasting its own games to justify charging 70 cents per subscriber. It's a power struggle -- even Congress is interested.

And it doesn't look good for the NFL Network. Especially in the Ozarks.

Consider that the Chiefs are a big draw in the Ozarks. The region holds the Chiefs' strongest fan base outside of the K.C. area. Local broadcast of an NFL game is blacked out until it is sold out; only then can local fans watch the game on the tube. But the Ozarks is too far to be affected by those rules.

That means someone who wanted to see the Chiefs play had to get a satellite provider or go somewhere with satellite TV. For a majority of people, that means they went to a bar. Not exactly where most families want to spend a Thanksgiving evening.

The NFL Network is going to feel the effects of this for a while. Granted, the NFL's product is top-notch. But its treatment of broadcasts and local fans shows pointless greed at the expense of fans. It will also suffer in the ratings. Though hundreds will go to bars to watch the game, that won't show up in the ratings, which means advertising rates will suffer.

If anything, the treatment of the Denver-KC game should galvanize area cable companies and prevent them from getting bullied into a higher price.

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