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NFL Lockout: Eric Winston Wants Thursday Games On Network TV

Battle Red Blog (and Pro Football Talk, which posted the original articlehad some thoughts on PFT's sitdown with Texans tackle Eric Winston. His idea? If the league is so desperate for money, why aren't they selling the rights of the NFL Network game, which they own, to another network? The NFL Network still hasn't penetrated the New York City area and Time Warner is fighting them tooth and nail. Why not just turn around and flip Thursday Night Football to say, ESPN, or perhaps NBC, and accumulate massive wealth that way. BRB thinks this is a solid idea:

Wouldn't the NFL and, by extension the NFLPA, stand to gain a whole lot more money than they'd lose by moving the game from the NFL Network to a truly national outlet? A bigger audience, more advertising dollars, greater exposure...where's the downside?

Is it simply that the NFL believes that the primary reason people subscribe to the NFL Network is the ability to see a handful of Thursday Night games every year? That may have been the driving force behind many fans' initial decision to suscribe, but with the NFL Network's ever growing slate of original programming (including but not limited to its pre-game show, its post-game show, its coverage of the NFL Combine, its coverage of the NFL Draft, and various other products not available on any other channel), I don't believe that Thursday Night game is the sole draw anymore.

I'm not so sure I agree, if only because while the battle to reach every possible viewer is on, the NFL Network needs to keep it's full portfolio. Without the NFL games, the networks draws would be Mike Mayock and Shake Weight commercials. But it's an interesting thought by Winston: the owners definitely have untapped revenue sources, and if they're really hurting for cash, they could take steps like this instead of trying to bend the players over a barrel.

I admit that I'm more of a union sympathizer than I am an owners sympathizer--I just don't see why the entertainment product should be shortchanged of rights they pretty clearly deserve for playing a dangerous game (benefits, pensions, money, etc.) so that the owners can throw on a third island mansion somewhere. But I'm not sure robbing the NFL Network of it's big draw is a starter for the owners. It's a nice thought to throw out there, because it demonstrates the owners do have other places to go for cash, but it's pretty unlikely that things will actually change.

Images by eflon used in background images under a Creative Commons license. Thank you.