If a carrier is going to drop NFL Network, the best time to do it is probably after the NFL Draft.
That’s exactly what Comcast did on its Xfinity platforms this week, dumping both NFL Network and NFL RedZone.
Xfinity’s programming changes site notes that both networks were dropped as of May 1st.
Comcast and the NFL have had carriage battles over NFL Network since the network’s launch. Five years ago, Comcast shifted NFL Network back to its Digital Preferred tier after two years on the Digital Starter tier. In 2009, Comcast and the NFL publicly sparred about the future of NFL Network, and a new carriage deal was eventually struck.
This also isn’t the first time NFL Network and RedZone have been dropped by a carrier in recent years. Back in 2020, both networks were dropped by Dish and Sling in June. They returned on the first Sunday of that NFL season, nearly three months later.
On a less positive note, AT&T U-Verse and DirecTV Now (currently known as DirecTV Stream) dropped NFL Network and RedZone back in 2019, and the networks still haven’t returned.
Given that NBC, which is owned by Comcast, is paying the NFL a whole lot of money to air live games, I’d surely expect a deal to get struck sometime before the regular season. The league doesn’t have all that much leverage right now, and Comcast probably feels it can wait the NFL out over the summer without losing many subscribers.
There’s an alternative for Comcast subscribers that need their fix of Good Morning Football, next week’s annual schedule release show, or any other NFL Network programming: NFL+, the NFL’s streaming service. A 24/7 live feed to NFL Network is included in the subscription, which could be a decent short or long-term solution.