CBS, NBC Get Shot at Pats Perfection
NFL Network to simulcast regular-season finale
The National Football League, after hearing from the Pats' home-state senator and fans, has agreed to simulcast Saturday night's Patriots-New York Giants game on CBS and NBC, meaning anyone with a television should be able to watch. The NFL Network is available in about 40 million homes and has been feuding with several big cable operators who don't yet carry the network.
"We have taken this extraordinary step because it is in the best interest of our fans," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says. "... We appreciate CBS and NBC delivering the NFL Network telecast on Saturday night to the broad audience that deserves to see this potentially historic game."
The two broadcast networks will carry the NFL Network's telecast, with announcers Bryant Gumbel and Cris Collinsworth calling the action. The Patriots, who are 15-0 this season, are trying to complete the first perfect regular season since the Miami Dolphins went 14-0 in 1972 (the Dolphins went on to win the Super Bowl). The Giants are 10-5 and have clinched a playoff spot.
The league offered the game to CBS because it would have had broadcast rights to the matchup had it been scheduled on Sunday afternoon, and to NBC because it would have had Sunday prime-time rights. FOX was reportedly not involved.
Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry has called on the NFL Network to make the game available over the air. The league, for its part, used the announcement to further press its case to be carried on Time Warner and Charter, among other cable systems. The league wants NFL Network to be carried on the companies' basic packages -- at a hefty sum -- while the cable operators want to carry it on a digital sports tier.
The NFL Network is currently in about 40 million homes.