NFL commissioner Roger Goodell popped by the Culver City offices of the NFL Network on Tuesday — his first visit, he said, since taking over as the league’s boss in Sept., 2006. He’d been in Buffalo the night before for the Bills-Browns game and, before flying back East on Tuesday night, he did a Q-and-A with some locally-based reporters, touching on the future of the league-owned NFL Network and how it will work itself into cable homes sometime down the road.
Some of the highlights will be broken up in postings between now and the next couple of days:
On what it will take for the NFL Network to finally turn the corner and become available to consumers who continue to ask for it, despite the ongoing struggle between the league and major cable operators such as Time Warner, Comcast and Charter:
Goodell: “I was updated earlier today that we are on 300 cable and satellite carriers. We’re trying to resolve the remaining big three. But the interest has been extraordinary from all the other carriers. … When you look at how networks grow, I’m looking at a variety of other networks and they’re in 10 million homes. I think the expectation may have been higher in some people’s minds, but the reality is, this is a very successful network and I think the reality of how we get there is to continue the quality, expand our programming and eventually we’ll get that distribution because I think viewers will demand it.”
On whether the average viewer understands all the behind-the-scenes fighting, or if they really care:
Goodell: “I would argue they don’t care, they just want to see it and I understand that perspective. In this day in age, people can see most everything they want, and they want to see the games and quality of programming that comes out of this facility.”
On what is the most effective way to get the NFL Network’s message out about what’s going on — letters to the editor, commercials, any other options?
Goodell: “The communication is to get people to truly understand why it’s not there. (NFL Network CEO) Steve (Bornstein, sitting nearby) is laughing at me because I was returning fan calls (Thursday night). A number of fans called my personal line and left voice mails — and I called them back. We talked about why they weren’t getting it and they appreciated it and understood. I don’t think it makes them feel any better because they want to see the games and the NFL Network, but at least they understand that we care and most importantly, we’re not benefiting by this. Particularly as it relates to a sports tier. We’re fighting the sports tier because they’re charging our consumers seven, eight bucks a month to get that. That’s wrong. We think there broad interest in the game, that’s been proven and it should be available more broadly. …
“(Callers) asked questions, ‘Why am I not seeing the game?’ and we went through it very methodically, I was watching the game as I was doing it. They had good questions and I think they went away at least better informed on the issues.”
On whether it was hard to convince the people that it was actually you calling them back:
Goodell: “A couple didn’t believe it, but they finally became convinced. I’m still emailing one of them.”
Part II coming up….