The NFL said yesterday that it had reached a deal for CBS and NBC affiliates to carry the NFL Network's broadcast of Saturday night's game between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants. Should the 15-0 Patriots prevail over the 10-5 Giants, they'll become the first NFL team since the 1972 Miami Dolphins to finish the regular season undefeated.
Because the NFL Network is only available to about one third of U.S. households -- due to the league's insistence that it be carried as a basic-tier channel and cable providers such as Time Warner's insistence that it be included on a sports tier -- it appeared many fans wouldn't get to see the potentially historic game.
And the NFL, apparently, was wary of the potential backlash.
"We have taken this extraordinary step because it is in the best interest of our fans," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. "What we have seen for the past year is a very strong consumer demand for NFL Network. We appreciate CBS and NBC delivering the NFL Network telecast on Saturday night to the broad audience that deserves to see this potentially historic game. Our commitment to the NFL Network is stronger than ever."
The last NFL simulcast of any kind was the first Super Bowl in 1967, the league said.
The game kicks off at 8:15 p.m. EST Saturday and will be called by the NFL Network's broadcast team of Bryant Gumbel and Cris Collinsworth.