Fans Encouraged To Request NFL Network From Their Cable Systems

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On Dec. 21, when the Packers host the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field, the game is being televised on the NFL Network.

For Packers fans in the Green Bay and Milwaukee markets, a local television station (CBS's WFRV in Green Bay and Fox's WITI in Milwaukee) will carry the NFL Network broadcast and they'll still be able to watch the game.

But what about Packers fans in the rest of Wisconsin, or for that matter, around the country?

If they subscribe to a cable service that doesn't receive the NFL Network, aside from venturing out to a sports bar with holiday visitors and other preparations pending, they aren't going to be able to see the game.

It's a game they aren't going to want to miss. It's against one of Green Bay's fiercest NFC North Division rivals. It could have NFC playoff implications, or it might be quarterback Brett Favre's last game at Lambeau Field, depending on what the future Hall of Famer decides to do in the off-season.

"We certainly understand our fans' frustration at the prospect of missing a big, late-season rivalry game like this," said Packers President/COO John Jones. "It's a tough situation while this gets sorted out."

"Packers fans in the Green Bay and Milwaukee TV markets will be able to see the game through local channels, but fans in the entire state of Wisconsin have an undying interest in the Packers, and legions of fans in practically every U.S. state follow this team. It's those fans who are anxious right now."

The NFL Network is encouraging fans to be heard. Fans can call their cable company directly by using their latest bill, or they can call 866-NFL-Network, which will route calls directly to local cable companies by using the caller's zip code. Or they can send a message directly to Time Warner or Charter Communications. (In Wisconsin, all of Time Warner's customers are located in the Green Bay and Milwaukee markets and will have access to the Dec. 21 game via the local feed. That access does not apply to Time Warner customers outside Wisconsin.)

"Our fans need to let Time Warner and Charter Communications know they want the NFL Network," said NFL Network spokesman Seth Palansky. "They need to be vocal and ask them why they're being charged so much for cable yet not receiving a channel that they really want."

Of the six major television providers in the United States, Time Warner and Charter Communications are the only ones that do not offer the NFL Network. The major holdup between the two sides is that cable providers want to loop the NFL Network in a special sports package and charge customers an additional fee, perhaps $10 a month, for the NFL Network.

While Palansky believes that the average NFL fan would be more than happy to shell out the $10 per month for NFL Network's non-stop coverage of the nation's most popular spectator sport, NFL officials refuse to give in to the demand based on principle. None of the four other major providers charge an additional fee for the NFL Network, and the NFL doesn't see why Time Warner and Charter Communications should.

{sportsad300}"They know NFL fans are passionate," Palansky said. "Time Warner and Charter Communications are trying to capitalize on that. We haven't done that deal with anyone else and we're going to continue on this path because we don't want our fans to be taken advantage of by the cable companies. You get all these other channels as part of your regular package and you should get the NFL Network as well."

What's more, lack of access to the NFL Network means Packers fans won't be able to watch other late-season games that could have NFC playoff implications, such as Dallas vs. Atlanta on Dec. 16, or the New York Giants vs. Washington on Dec. 30.

And that goes for Packers fans everywhere, including those in Green Bay and Milwaukee who subscribe to Time Warner, because they won't get a local feed on games involving other teams.

"We can't get through to Time Warner and Charter Communications that NFL fans are passionate about the League and want all the information they can get about it," Palansky said. "They think that NFL fans only care about their one team for their one game. We've tried to explain to them that these fans have interest in this sport, in their division, in their conference, and so on."

Another hang-up is that Time Warner and Charter Communications appear to only acknowledge the value of the eight regular-season games that will be carried on the NFL Network. But high demand exists as well for programs such as NFL Total Access, a daily news show which regularly features Packers players, as well as highlight shows, game replays, and unique access to special events such as the NFL Scouting Combine and the Senior Bowl.

"They believe this network offers only eight nights of programming that is of interest to our fans," Palansky said. "That's simply not true."

For fans who have the ability to get a satellite system, another option does exist. Both DirecTV and Dish Network do carry NFL Network and have it on their most affordable programming package without additional cost.

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