NFL Network still may be locked at the line of scrimmage with cable operators. But it has nonetheless expanded its distribution roster.
The second-year network has seen its subscriber base grow 10% since it presented its last regular-season pro football contest in December.
At that point, the National Football League-owned service was in some 40 million homes, a figure that has jumped to just under 44 million in the latest figures from Nielsen Media Research.
“There have been continued rollouts with affiliates,” said NFL Network communications director Seth Palansky. “We added 500,000 alone with Verizon [FiOS TV], [EchoStar Communications Corp.’s] Dish [Network] and DirecTV in the second quarter alone.”
The jump comes even as Comcast migrates the NFL Network to its sports tier. That package typically sells for around $5 per month and also includes NBA TV, Fox Soccer Channel and Tennis Channel, among others.
The migration of NFL Network from Comcast’s “D2” package, its second-most widely distributed digital package, kicked off in May, following a summary judgment by New York State Supreme Court Judge Bernard Fried permitting the move.
NFL Network has appealed the ruling and is due to make a response in the case, which has subsequently been sealed, owing to confidentiality agreements surrounding contractual information, according to Palansky.
Comcast didn’t comment on the status of the legal proceedings, but did issue the following statement: “We offer the NFL Network on our Sports Entertainment Pack, which is the best and fairest way to provide this programming to our customers.”
Meanwhile, notably absent from NFL Network’s distribution lineup: the nation’s No. 2 operator, Time Warner Cable, and the New York area’s Cablevision Systems. Both have refused to budge on NFL Network’s request for positioning on expanded basic.
The channel should get more traction from its inclusion in a “Football 24/7” advertising campaign for EchoStar Communications’ Dish Network. That promotes a $29.99 per month programming package which includes games on NFL Network.