The two best teams in football over the last decade get together for one of the most anticipated games of the season this week. Between them, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots have won five of the last nine Super Bowls.
They play each other this Sunday night on the weekly gridiron extravaganza NBC calls “Football Night in America.” Cue Faith Hill and hit the fireworks.
As it stands now, millions of Americans will be able to plop down in front of the TV and watch the Pats battle the Steel Curtain as a free broadcast or as part of a basic cable package. But that could soon change if the country’s largest cable company, Comcast, is allowed to move forward with its plans to take over the company that owns NBC and scores of other big sports and entertainment outlets.
Should Comcast get control of NBC, it could and likely would try to move Sunday Night Football off free broadcast television or even basic cable. Don’t think so? That’s exactly what happened to the groundbreaking Monday Night Football broadcast in 2005. After 35 years of revolutionizing televised NFL football, MNF was shifted from ABC to the ESPN cable network – lock, stock and Hank Williams Jr.
Both the New England and Pittsburgh cable television markets are controlled by Comcast, so that means fans in non-Comcast markets will be okay, right?
Not if Comcast decides to play hardball, which has long been standard operating procedure for the company. In order to get whatever cable channel Comcast might decide to move SNF to, other cable companies and consumers would likely be forced to buy a whole package of Comcast-controlled programming. Want to see the game? Fine, says Comcast. But you will also need to pay us for the bass fishing network and 10 home shopping networks you will never, ever actually watch.
National Hockey League fans already have experience with this. With the exception of the final round of the playoffs, NHL games are mostly available only on regional sports networks – many of which are owned by various cable companies – or on Versus, a national sports cable network that is owned by, you guessed it, Comcast.
It’s really hard to believe that Comcast will not gouge customers at every opportunity just like it always has should it be allowed to take over NBC/Universal, which itself controls the vast stable of NBC sports, news and entertainment properties.
Want to tell the FCC you are against the Comcast takeover of NBC? Just click here.