NFL Commish Goodell Speaks About Comcast Deal

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will meet the media and talk about the league’s long-term deal to put the NFL Network on Comcast’s digital basic tier. He’ll speak at about 12:30 p.m.

I’ll monitor. If there’s anything earthshattering, I’ll put it up here. If not, I’ll wait for the press release and post it when it hits the Fang’s Bites inbox.

Until then, I’m eating corn on the cob for lunch.

UPDATE – 12:35 p.m.: The announcement is being streamed on NFL.com. Right now, the Commish is late.

UPDATE – 12:45 p.m.: Apparently the announcement is slated for this time, not 12:30 p.m. No matter. I’m getting work done while the blank screen is still up.

UPDATE – 12:49 p.m.: NFL.com is now streaming NFL Network and showing us Dallas-New York Giants when CBS had the NFC! Summerall and Madden. It was the game where Emmit Smith had a broken arm and ran all over the G-Men. I guess we’re watching this while waiting for the Commish who is now running late.

UPDATE – 12:55 p.m.: Now I get this notice from the fine people in the NFL’s PR department.

Conference Call TODAY (Tuesday, May 19) at 1:30 PM ET with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts.

And Scott Hansen comes on from Fort Lauderdale, FL where the NFL meetings are taking place and announces that the Commish will speak at that time. I’ll just keep monitoring the live video.

So we go from 12:30 to 12:45 to 1:30 p.m. I’ll continue to work and you can keep your RSS feed updated.

UDPATE – 1 p.m.: Commish expected to speak at a news conference any moment in Fort Lauderdale. The media call is a separate event.

UPDATE – 1:03 p.m: Commish confirms the Comcast agreement and says the CBS and Fox two year extensions are now set in stone. Goodell says the new network agreements show the commitment to free TV.

UPDATE – 1:06 p.m.: The Commish says the real winners are the fans in the Comcast deal. They won’t have to pay extra for NFL Network. NFLN will be on a broad distribution which the league wanted all along.

UPDATE – 1:20 p.m: Not many questions about the Comcast deal, but one reporter asks Commish asked if the Comcast and CBS/Fox deals are related. Commish says no.

UPDATE – 1:22 p.m.: Commish now leaves the press conference to head to a conference call involving him and Comcast CEO Brian Roberts about the announcement. I’ll monitor that as well.

UPDATE – 1:27 p.m.: On hold for the media conference call between Commish and Roberts. Calling through Skype.

UPDATE – 1:30 p.m: Commish starts with comments thanking Comcast and Mr. Roberts for this partnership. It’s a win for the fans and consumers.

Roberts says it’s a long-term deal. It’s the beginning of a new chapter working with the NFL. Says Commish inherited the situation and he worked to bring a resolution.

Sean Leahy of USA Today asks how important was it for Commish to reach out to Roberts and for the NFL Network? Would the channel have survived if there were no agreement?

Commish says owners are committed to long-term survival of NFLN. Commish says he wanted a partnership that made sense for the fans and Comcast’s customers.

Leahy asks if the two men (Goodell and Roberts) were not involved, would the deal have come so quickly?

Commish says Brian was important to resolve the issue and he was involved the entire way.

Jim Williams of DC Examiner asks Roberts was it one or two things to get the deal done?

Roberts won’t talk about specifics for pricing for the channel. Roberts says to reposition the channel was to ensure it would cost right for consumers. They also did not want to have discussions a few years down the road. Long-term agreement was important. Says Comcast has carried NFL Network since the inception, but price was important and make sure it was not disruptive to package that was already offered. Both sides had to compromise. Gives credit to NFL for creativity. Says NFL wanted to commit a second channel for the Red Zone Channel. Says that might go on the sports tier. Says Comcast wishes to have NFL Sunday Ticket, but Red Zone Channel gives fans every touchdown. It changes the landscape.

Richard Sandomir, NY Times. How did they get past the rancor and acrimonious talks?

Roberts says if Commish had not personally taken the reins, they would not have had the happy outcome they had today. Roberts says the angry talks are in the past. Goodell’s leadership was important. He says the new partnership is a way to start over and have a new relationship.

Richard asks about the anger which was personal.

Commish says it was not personal. They were able to work through and forged a relationship and they understood the distribution of Comcast.

Roberts adds that both organizations there’s a lot to discuss, it took some time, but they’ve turned a new page.

Howard Eskin of WIP asks about cost to the consumer. Will there be a cost that customers will see? Why was it more effective for Comcast to keep it in an a la carte fashion?

Roberts says there was no specific charge. No plan for that. At first, wanted to keep NFLN on a sports tier, but he understood that would not be conducive for the league. So they wanted to find a way to distrubute the content for all customers, not just those who wanted to pay. This is good for 10 million fans to get this content. Huge increase in distribution.

Paul Domowitz, Philadelphia Daily News. Asks Roger what the deal means for other cable providers.

Roger says this deal increases subscriber base by 8.5 million. Roger says NFLN is on four of the top cable providers and that is an indication of the content. NFL is seeking broad distribution and is hopeful that it will get resolved soon. Says Roberts leadership will be recognized by the other CEO’s.

Tim Doyle asks about why the NFL agreed to lower fees.

Commish says he can’t talk about the fee. It was a compromise and it was good for consumers. Any deal requires compromise.

Tim asks any more such deals before the season?

Commish is hopeful. Points to DirecTV, Echostar (Dish) and Comcast, CBS and Fox deals. There’s plenty of momentum and they have gotten other media companies’ attention.

Don Walker, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Asks about Time Warner.

Commish says he doesn’t know of any talks with Time Warner Cable, but he’s hopeful that something gets done soon.

Bob Fernandez. Asks about DirecTV’s role in marginalizing cable’s role. Is Red Zone an acknowledgment to cable? What?

Commish says the NFL would not marginalize the cable industry. The NFL has been on cable since the mid 1980’s. Relationship with cable has been positive.

Red Zone will be a new way to create opportunities for the fans and their partners.

Josh Wine asks what effect the FCC and other court proceedings had on the deal.

Roberts says no way to precisely answer that. Says when they got close to a deal, they should not wait for the results of the legal proceedings. Ultimately, no one had to do a deal now, but it tells everyone that this is the right outcome.

Commish says he felt it would come to a negotiated settlement. That way, you control your own destiny and everyone wins.

Roberts talks about a lunch he had with Goodell telling him that if they’re not talking, they won’t settle.

Mike Reynolds asks Roberts if Red Zone Channel will be on sports tier.

Yes. Not official yet.

Commish says they’ll sit down how to deploy Red Zone Channel and where to position it. They’ll have to talk to CBS and Fox on how to deploy it in the most effective way.

Will NFL Network get a whole slate of regular season games if more games are added to the regular season?

Commish says that hasn’t been decided yet.

Matt Geiderman asks how the deal adds to the revenue structure to the NFL. Does it affect ability to help teams in trouble financially?

Commish says players are part of the great content. He says the partners have their challenges. Networks are challenged with advertisers. Cable has to deliver high quality product.

How does this affect collective bargaining. What?

Goodell says when you’re building, you have extraordinary costs like stadium. That risk falls to owners. For collective bargaining, they have to talk about growing the game.

David Bearing asks how important was it to retain full ownership of the channel instead of giving equity stakes as MLB Network did.

Commish says league was willing to negotiate, but there were compromises in different areas, but league retains 100% ownership.

Roberts says equity was not part of the talks. Always looking for total value and how that can get conveyed. He’s starting a new chapter today and he’s looking forward to a long relationship with the NFL.

And we’re done at 2:01 p.m.

My fingers are typed out. Back later.

Ken Fang

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013. He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television. Fang celebrates the three Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.

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