I realize this is not LSU related, but there's not much other football news.... From the NY Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/10/sports/football/10sandomir.html) You have to subsribe (for free) to the NY Times to read articles, so here it is: July 10, 2003 Feeding Voracious N.F.L. Fans By RICHARD SANDOMIR For the National Football League, enough is not enough. Dominance on Sunday afternoons and Monday nights is not enough. The Super Bowl's placement as each year's highest-rated program is not enough. Nor is it enough for the N.F.L. to receive more money from broadcast and cable networks than any other sport. To achieve daily ubiquity, the league will, on Nov. 4, begin the NFL Network, a round-the-clock channel designed to feed fans unsated by existing coverage with news, analysis and programming from NFL Films. "This is about people who want more," said Steve Bornstein, the president of the NFL Network, who ran ESPN for nearly a decade, through 1999, a period when it created ESPN2 and ESPNews and acquired the Classic Sports Network. "You do that by offering a channel devoted exclusively to the people who love football and creating a product to serve fans on a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week basis," he said. The model is one followed by NBA TV (which in January began carrying games, including some during the playoffs), the Golf Channel, the Outdoor Life Network, the Tennis Channel and College Sports Television, and locally, by the YES Network, with its dominant Yankees programming (and lower-rated Nets games). Some networks fill a niche; others, like the N.B.A.'s and the N.F.L.'s, have too broad a fan base to be viewed as serving a narrow audience. "The N.B.A. proved you can make a channel out of one sport," said Michael Thornton, the senior vice president for program acquisitions for the satellite service DirecTV, which carries NBA TV and will carry the NFL Network. "Below the major sports, it gets more difficult to execute and may not be as good as the N.B.A. or N.F.L." Stephen J. Solomon, an industry consultant and former ABC Sports executive, said: "For the N.F.L., it's a very strong, very good idea. One of the strengths of all leagues is that they can control their content." Unlike a traditional network like CBS, the Golf Channel and other channels not owned by a league, the NFL Network, like NBA TV, does not have rights fees to pay. An all-N.F.L. network is not surprising. CNN expanded the appetite for news beyond the half-hour evening news programs on broadcast networks. ESPN discovered the ravenous appetite for sports beyond weekend afternoon viewing. "I heard criticisms of ESPN, about why you needed seven days a week of sports," Bornstein said. "Well, this is about choice and convenience: the programs are there when people want them." It is also about extending the N.F.L. brand, reaching men 18 to 34 to recruit key advertisers, and making more money for a league that is entering the sixth year of television contracts worth $17.6 billion. "Typically, these networks take five to seven years to break even," Bornstein said. "I think we'll beat that by a significant number of years." The league is not actually paying the $100 million in startup costs. Its new five-year, $2 billion satellite deal with DirecTV to carry the "Sunday Ticket" slate of out-of-market games includes $20 million a year to finance the NFL Network. The notion of an N.F.L. channel began to circulate in the league's New York office in the early 1990's and became a serious topic for in-house research three years ago, but it "did not come to the level of an investment until Steve came aboard," said Roger Goodell, the league's executive vice president and chief officer. Bornstein said that when he was hired as a consultant to the league last year, he asked Commissioner Paul Tagliabue if the network idea made sense to him. "He said he had no idea, but why don't you come on?" Bornstein said. Less than four months before its launch, the network's programming plans are evolving. The core is a Tuesday-to-Saturday block to start at 8 p.m., with "NFL Total Access," a "SportsCenter"-like show with Rich Eisen, formerly of ESPN, as host. Eisen will, essentially, be the primary face of the network, although it is very likely that the faces of Vince Lombardi, John Elway and Michael Vick will be seen more. The 9 p.m. "NFL Films Presents" will be a combination of new and old productions from the league's enormous archives; it will be followed at 10 p.m. by "Playbook," which will analyze matchups. During the season, one night a week on "Playbook" will be filled with a one-hour high-definition replay of one of the previous Sunday's games on CBS and Fox. Nearly all the rest of the programming will be created by NFL Films, with its archive of 100 million feet of film. Old network games will not be replayed. "With these networks, you want 1,500 hours a year of original programming," Bornstein said. "We have 3,000. That's already two years in the can." For Steve Sabol, the president of NFL Films, serving the new network will require a tripling of his group's workload. There is no need to shoot more games - Sabol sends crews to every one - but to find new uses for what has already been seen on ESPN and HBO Sports and to use the lode of footage that has never been shown - half of its huge library. "The biggest change will be the relentlessness," Sabol said. "The great thing is we've had so many ideas that we've never had the chance to do. Things in a file drawer have had the quietus placed on them for 25 years. We'll have carte blanche to do what we want to do. And instead of being on ESPN at 4:30 p.m. or 1 a.m., we'll be appointment viewing. It's all you could want if you're a filmmaker." The programming mix will change over time, with more original programming in the coming years and presumably less reliance on NFL Films. "It's a big mistake to overprogram this network," Bornstein said. "The real ability is to serve it up. TV is inherently passive. You may or may not be interested in the 1985 Chicago Bears Super Bowl championship film, but when I serve it up, you'll be happy." One potential difficulty for the fledgling network is its relationship with the networks - CBS, Fox, ABC and ESPN - that pay the league $2.2 billion a year. Will it complement the games or cannibalize viewership? Bornstein insists it will be the former. During Sunday afternoon games, the NFL Network will provide mostly graphic information; on Sunday and Monday nights, it will offer home shopping and, perhaps, college football programs. Ed Goren, the president of Fox Sports, said: "Expanding interest and awareness of the N.F.L. is a plus. I don't seen an issue right now. Come back to me in four or five years and see if they're competing with us for advertising dollars." Now, there is little competition. The NFL Network has one deal, with DirecTV, giving it access to 11.4 million subscribers, with cable deals to be negotiated. NBA TV is available to 20 million satellite customers. But, Solomon said, after the 2005 season, when DirecTV loses its exclusive right to carry the out-of-market "Sunday Ticket" package, the N.F.L. could offer it to eager systems contingent upon their taking the NFL Network. "The N.F.L. has a lot of leverage," Solomon said. "They have what cable operators want."