Screw the NFL Network

I didn’t really pay attention when the NFL created the NFL Network, and I paid even less attention a couple of years ago when decided to assign a handful of late-season games to their own channel.
When Midcontinent finally added the channel, I wandered through it a few times. All I could ever think was, “is there really a reason for this channel?” Really, what has it ever given us that we can’t get from a half-dozen ESPN channels or FSN (talk about a real waste of a channel outside of Twins games)? There are only so many times you can view the highlights of Super Bowl 28, or those wacky training camp rookie talent shows.
Like most people, I shrugged my shoulders when word came earlier this year that it would cost extra to access this channel. With the exception of the eight weeks of the year that they would actually show a game, it didn’t seem worth the extra $2.50 per month (or whatever it is). Surely, the games relegated to this channel would involve teams from Houston, Miami, and Oakland.
Plus, I already had a ritual for the evening they were going to show these games. Thursday is really the only night that any of the networks broadcast anything that I make a point of viewing. My Name Is Earl, 30 Rock, The Office, and sometimes Scrubs are the strongest comedy foursome I’ve seen in decades.
But with the writer’s strike already messing with the production of all of these programs, suddenly I have a hole in my busy schedule. Hey, it’s a lot of work to be a hermit. Take Thanksgiving evening. I had done the family thing earlier in the day, and had taken my post-meal nap while the Cowboys bored me to tears (as usual). Now I had nothing to do, and the Colts game was on this silly channel.
This Thursday is even worse. Instead of a contest between two cellar-dwellers, the NFL Network somehow awarded itself with the NFC version of the earlier Patriots/Colts game. The top two teams of the NFC, Dallas and Green Bay, are meeting in a game that will likely decide home field advantage in the playoffs. And I can’t watch it!
It would be pretty easy for me to sit here and condemn Midco for this fiasco, and I obviously have no problem complaining about those scum-suckers. But this time they’re not to blame. It’s the NFL that’s playing hardball with cable companies across the country by charging prices that are normally reserved for channels with a significant number of viewers. They’re also (unsuccessfully) demanding that cable companies put this channel in the core area of the lineup. Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones has even begun to plead with consumers to drop cable and pick up Direct TV, which doesn’t charge extra for this channel.
Come on, this is ridiculous. The NFL Network is a 24-hour infomercial for the league, and should be treated as such. It’s a loss leader designed to make us want to watch more of their product, and purchase more of their memorabilia. Yes, it’s operating at a loss, but overall it’s designed to create more profits for each of the teams.
There is good news, though. Since I can’t watch the game, I now have an open evening. If there’s any lovely ladies out there who wants to spend some time with an ageing, chubby, pasty-skinned music-obsessive goofball, hit me up. I’m easily the most available person in town…and likely will continue to be as I keep hitting refresh on my myspace site waiting for that elusive invite. I stink.


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