The NFL has arranged with broadcast television partners CBS and NBC for an unprecedented three-way national simulcast of the NFL Network telecast of Saturday night's New England Patriots at New York Giants game when the Patriots will try to become the first NFL team to go 16-0 in a regular season, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced Wednesday.
"We have taken this extraordinary step because it is in the best interest of our fans," Commissioner 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."
CBS and NBC will carry the NFL Network feed of the game with Bryant Gumbel and Cris Collinsworth in the broadcast booth. The game also will be televised by WCVB-ABC (Channel 5) in Boston, WMUR-ABC in Manchester, New Hampshire (Channel 9) and WWOR (Channel 9) in New York. The telecast begins at 8 p.m. ET with kickoff set at 8:15 p.m. ET.
This will be the first three-network simulcast in NFL history and the first simulcast of any kind of an NFL game since Super Bowl I in 1967 when CBS and NBC both televised the first meeting of the champions of the newly merged National Football League and American Football League. CBS was the network partner of the NFL at that time and NBC televised the AFL. In that first Super Bowl – in which the NFL Green Bay Packers beat the AFL Kansas City Chiefs 35-10 in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on January 15, 1967 – Ray Scott, Jack Whitaker and Frank Gifford called the game for CBS while Curt Gowdy and Paul Christman broadcast the game on NBC.
Against the 10-5 playoff-bound Giants, the 15-0 Patriots on Saturday night will seek to become the first NFL team to complete an unbeaten regular season since the Miami Dolphins went 14-0 in 1972. The Dolphins proceeded to win three more games, including Super Bowl VII, to finish 17-0 for the only perfect season in NFL history. The NFL regular season was expanded to 16 games in 1978.
The Patriots also are aiming for their record 19th consecutive regular-season victory dating back to the 2006 season. With six points, they also will become the highest scoring team in one NFL season, breaking the Minnesota Vikings' total of 556 in 1998. Individually, quarterback TOM BRADY (48) is in position to break Peyton Manning's NFL record for most touchdown passes in a season (49 in 2004) and wide receiver RANDY MOSS (21) will set a new league mark if he catches two touchdown passes to surpass JERRY RICE's 22 in 1987.
NFL Network is currently available on 240 cable systems, including Cox, plus satellite television providers DirecTV and Dish Network, and the telephone company TV services of AT&T U-VERSE and Verizon FiOS. But a few of the largest cable companies have refused to carry NFL Network on their most broadly distributed and affordable packages.
"NFL Network is a programming service of great interest to fans and should be broadly distributed by the cable industry," said NFL Network President and CEO Steve Bornstein. "The only channel devoted 24/7 to America's favorite sport is not programming that should be relegated to a poorly promoted, pay-extra sports tier that takes advantage of our fans' passion for the NFL. A few of the biggest cable operators have refused to negotiate. We call on them to do what's right for their consumers and negotiate agreements for NFL Network that make sense for everybody."
NFL Network also will televise two college football bowl games over the next week. The Texas Bowl in Houston matches the University of Houston against TCU at 8 p.m. ET on Friday (December 28) and the Insight Bowl in Tempe, Arizona will send Indiana University against Oklahoma State on Monday (December 31) at 6 p.m. ET.