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Let's Make a Deal with The NFL Network

Have no fear, the Buffalo Bills prime time game with the New York Jets in Toronto on Dec. 3 on The NFL Network will get double coverage here on a local network affiliate if it is sold out 72 hours in advance as expected.

At this point, we just don't know which station will get the simulcast. A Bills spokesman confirmed this morning that no local station owns the rights to NFL Network games and it will be open to a bidding process.

Of course, The NFL Network isn't carried on Time Warner Cable. If a deal between The NFL and TWC isn't struck by Dec.3, a local station stands to gain more from a deal with the NFL Network than it would from a deal with ESPN. After all, ESPN already is on cable and shares the audience with the local affiliate simulcasting the game.

According to sources,Channel 7 owns the simulcast rights to the Bills opener with New England on ESPN's Monday Night Football Sept. 14.

As I predicted on March 28, the NFL wasn't about to be persuaded by the signing of Terrell Owens that the Bills would be a big prime time attraction. I said back then that the Bills probably would have gotten one ESPN game if Owens hadn't signed on the basis of their 7-9 record. I thought they'd probably get one additional game either on ESPN or The NFL Network and that's what happened.

Historically, the NFL doesn't rely on one player in determing its prime time games because that player could be hurt by the time a game is played or he might not have as much impact as expected.

In any event, what do you think of the Bills' television schedule?

-- Alan Pergament

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