Though there were signs that Time Warner Cable could reach an agreement with the NFL Network, to keep the cable channel on the former Adelphia and Comcast systems...that apparently won't be the case for now.
Time Warner pulled the channel again early Friday morning, at the new deadline the cable operator had set after extending that deadline earlier this month.
There's a three screen message in place on the NFL Network channel, telling viewers about the channel's dumping:
Regretfully, the NFL Network has been deleted from the Time Warner Cable channel line-up. Despite continued talks, we have not been able to reach an agreement for carriage that is in the best interests of our customers.
We want to carry the NFL Network in a manner that is fair to all of our customers - this means placing it in a digital sports package with other sports networks that appeal to a select audience (such as NBA-TV, the Tennis Channel, and College Sports TV). This way we can make the network available to the customers that want it without everyone picking up the tab. However, the NFL Network continues to insist that all of our customers pay for the Network regardless of their interest in its programming.
We will continue to negotiate and remain hopeful that an agreement will be reached that is beneficial to all. In the meantime, we want to assure you that your home team games (many in High Definition) can, indeed, be viewed on Time Warner Digital Cable. HD services and sports programming in your area by visiting www.timewarnercable.com/yournfl.
In short, the negotiations stalled past the end of the NFL Network's pre-season game package, so TWC is in no hurry to return the channel to its former Adelphia and Comcast systems.
The NFL Network is not lying back and waiting, though.
Not only have we heard frequent ads on local radio stations urging "dumped" viewers to call the toll-free line the network has set up - which we reported earlier was urging NFL Network viewers to sign up for Dish Network - they've also paid for newspaper ads that tell viewers that Time Warner Cable "doesn't think you want to see these key matchups" - late season games carried only on NFL Network.
Of course, games involving local teams - like the Browns' December 7th contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers - will air on local over-air stations in the two teams' markets. WJW "FOX 8" gets the honors for that game in the Cleveland market.
And there's a bit of insight from an NFL Network spokesman.
The NFL Network's Seth Palansky tells the Kansas City Star's Jeffrey Flanagan that the network was actually willing to go along with placement on a "sports tier" when talking to Time Warner three years ago.
But now, he repeats the core of the network's negotiating position:
“The playing field has changed,” Palansky said. “It’s like having a $50,000 house that now is worth $200,000. Things change. This is the NFL. This is football. We know how popular it is. This isn’t the bingo channel.”
And until the actual games start showing up, TWC has the luxury of hanging back and waiting...