New York – NFL Network, the NFL’s two-year-old television channel, will carry eight 2006 regular-season football games in the weeks running up to the playoffs.
The channel, which is currently carried by DirecTV, DISH Network and most major cable TV operators, will carry games airing from Thanksgiving to the end of the regular season on Thursday and/or Saturday nights.
The inaugural game of the package is scheduled for Thanksgiving night on Thursday, Nov. 23 as part of a new Thanksgiving Day tripleheader. Games telecast on NFL Network will include pregame and postgame shows.
NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said the league contemplated a variety of carriage options for the “run up to the playoffs” games package, but “in the end, we wanted these games on our Network, which is devoted 24/7 to the sport of football, and not on a multi-sport network.”
NFL Network will make all of its games available on free, over-the-air television in the participating team markets, continuing the NFL’s long-standing practice of making all of its games, including the playoffs and Super Bowl, available on free, over-the-air television.
In November, 2004, CBS and FOX agreed to extend their packages for six more years. NBC and ESPN last April secured rights for six and eight years respectively.
The decision completed the NFL’s negotiations for NFL game coverage in 2006. Networks carrying live NFL game coverage include the following:
CBS – AFC Package – Sunday afternoons [1 and 4pm ET]
FOX – NFC Package – Sunday afternoons [1 and 4pm ET]
NBC – Primetime Broadcast Package – Sunday evenings [8:15pm ET]
ESPN – Monday Night Football Package – Monday evenings [8:30pm ET]
NFL Network – Special Late-Season Package – Thursday and/or Saturday evenings [8pm ET] (beginning Thanksgiving]
DirecTV – Sunday Ticket Satellite Package 1 and 4pm ET]
NFL Network has more than 100 affiliates and is carried in more than 40 million homes in North America, including the top three distributors in the U.S. It launched in November 2003.