From: Reuters
Published December 27, 2007 12:22 PM

NFL lets networks co-broadcast Patriots-Giants game

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The National Football League will let broadcast networks CBS and NBC air the New England Patriots' bid to finish a perfect regular season this weekend, reversing a plan to air the game nationally only on the sports league's own cable channel.

The Patriots will play the New York Giants on Saturday after beating the Miami Dolphins earlier this week, leaving it with a perfect 15-0 record in the season to date.

"We have taken this extraordinary step because it is in the best interest of our fans," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement, citing the "potentially historic" element of the game.

The NFL had planned to air the game nationally on the NFL Network cable channel, as well as on local channels in New York and Boston, dismaying viewers who cannot view the network on the three largest U.S. cable operators' basic packages because the parties remain locked in a dispute over fees.


Comcast Corp <CMCSA.O>, the largest cable TV operator, decided in March to offer the NFL Network as a premium sports tier for an extra cost. The NFL is in similar stand-offs with Time Warner Cable <TWC.N> and Cablevision <CVC.N>.

NFL Network is available on smaller cable providers, as well as satellite operators DirecTV <DTV.O> and Dish Network <DISH.O> and the video services of AT&T <T.N> and Verizon Communications <VZ.N>.

CBS and NBC will carry the NFL Network feed in the first simultaneously broadcast football game since the 1967 Super Bowl. The CBS network is part of CBS Corp <CBS.N>, while NBC is part of NBC Universal, the media conglomerate controlled by General Electric Co.<GE.N>

The Dolphins were the last NFL team to finish undefeated in the regular season in 1972 with a 14-0 record, six years before the NFL moved to a 16-game schedule. They went on to finish the season undefeated, winning the Super Bowl.

(Reporting by Michele Gershberg, editing by Dave Zimmerman)

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