This year, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Penn.) and 12 other senators are again worried that the same problems will occur this season, with NFL games not being available to all viewers who want to see those games.
The NFL Network again plans to air a handful of games on its limited-distribution cable network that goes to 42 million homes. Also, like last year, games will also air on local broadcast stations where the teams play. DirecTV also can give customers access to these games.
"The goal of our NFL Network games is to show them to a national audience," said the statement from the league. The NFL wants to sell its network to valuable national advertisers, who typically don't consider a network with less than 70 million cable subscribers a national TV buy.
"[The] goal has been undercut by several of the largest cable operators that are discriminating against our network by either refusing to carry it or placing it on a much more costly tier than the sports networks that the cable operators themselves own," the league says. "These cable operators are denying their consumers fair access to this popular NFL programming."
The NFL has responded that two big cable operators are to blame-- Comcast and Time Warner won't put the network on the more broadly viewed basic cable tier. Those operators want to place the network on a pricier sports or digital tier.
"We continue to seek a negotiated agreement with Comcast, Time Warner and several other major cable operators so that our fans will not be deprived of our package of eight network games in the next two months," the league added.
Last year, the NFL averted problems to a major late-season game--New England Patriots-New York Giants, which was to be aired on the NFL Network--by also allowing simultaneous airing of the game on NBC and CBS.