NFL Network (occasionally abbreviated on-air as NFLN) is an American sports-oriented pay television network that is owned by the National Football League (NFL) and is part of NFL Media, which also includes NFL.com, NFL Films, NFL Mobile, NFL Now and NFL RedZone. Dedicated to American football, the network features game telecasts from the NFL, as well as NFL-related content including analysis programs, specials and documentaries. The network is headquartered in the Los Angeles suburb of Culver City, California, and broadcasts its worldwide feed from Encompass Digital Media (formally Crawford Communications) in Atlanta, Georgia. The NFL Media Campus, as well as the Network’s headquarters, is scheduled to relocate to Inglewood, California by summer of 2021, where a new office building and studio will be located next to SoFi Stadium. As of February 2015, NFL Network is available to approximately 71,867,000 pay television households in the United States (totaling 61.7% of U.S. households with at least one television set). History
NFL Network was launched on November 4, 2003, only eight months after the owners of the league’s 32 teams voted unanimously to approve its formation. The league invested $100 million to fund the network’s operations. NFL Films, which produces commercials, television programs, and feature films for the NFL, is a key supplier of NFL Network’s programming, with more than 4,000 hours of footage available in its library. As a result, much of the network’s highlights and recaps feature NFL Films’ trademark style of slow-motion game action, sounds of the game, and sideline conversations between players and/or team staff.Beginning with the 2006 season, the network began to broadcast eight regular-season NFL games during Thursday prime time, branded as Thursday Night Football. In addition to live games, the network has provided coverage of the NFL Draft since 2006; its coverage competes with that provided by ESPN and ESPN2. It was simulcast in a co-production with Fox Sports for the 2018 edition, though this was only a one-year agreement as exclusive over-the-air broadcast rights moved to ABC for the 2019 edition, which saw ESPN produce a different broadcast for ‘casual’ fans.In 2021, the network will move with the rest of NFL Media to a 200,000 square foot space on the campus of Hollywood Park, a development that also features SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. In addition to office and studio space, the new facility also will feature NFL Media’s first outdoor studio and space to host studio audiences.Branding
At the 2008 NFL Draft, NFL Network unveiled a revised logo that was updated to match the revised NFL logo introduced around the same time. Unlike the updated logo for the league, the NFL Network’s logo included subtle changes such as using a darker shade of blue and changing the “NFL” lettering to match that of the new league logo. During the 2012 NFL Draft, the network debuted an overhauled logo resembling that used by sister network NFL Red Zone; the network also began to play down the “HD” branding used on-air, as the vast majority of cable providers currently carrying NFL Network transmit the channel’s standard definition feed as a downscaled letterboxed version of the high definition feed. The logo underwent another minor change during the 2015 NFL season when as part of the league’s year-long celebration of Super Bowl 50, the logo took a gold hue in line with the league celebrating the game’s golden anniversary.
The network unveiled an updated ticker at the start of the 2017 season, replacing the one used since the 2012 rebranding.
Main article: List of programs broadcast by NFL Network
NFL game telecasts
Main article: Thursday Night Football
Prior to the 2012 season, the NFL Network aired live primetime games on Thursdays beginning in mid-November. Starting with the 2012 season, the network began televising one live Thursday night game each week from Weeks 2 through 15 (excluding Thanksgiving Day), as well as one live Saturday night game during Week 16. As a result of the addition of these extra games, every NFL team now appears in at least one timeslot-exclusive nationally televised game (either a Thursday, Sunday, or Monday Night contest, a Thanksgiving game, or a 9:30 a.m ET London game). As with the games broadcast by ESPN’s Monday Night Football, the NFL Network telecasts are also aired on a designated broadcast television station in the primary markets of the participating teams, although prior to the suspension of blackout rules in 2015 stations in the home team’s market only carried it if the televised game sold out all remaining available tickets 72 hours prior to the game’s start time.
When Thursday Night Football premiered, veteran television announcer Bryant Gumbel served as play-by-play announcer, with former Fox and current NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth serving as color commentator for the broadcasts. Collinsworth won the Sports Emmy for best game analyst for his work on the NFL Network telecasts. Dick Vermeil replaced Collinsworth for two games in 2006; Marshall Faulk and Deion Sanders replaced Collinsworth when needed in 2007.
In August 2007, the network televised the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New Orleans Saints as NBC opted to cover that year’s preseason game in China, which was later canceled. The 2007 schedule began on November 22 (Thanksgiving night), with a game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Gumbel and Collinsworth returned as the booth announcers.
Bob Papa, also the radio voice of the New York Giants on local sports talk station WFAN, announced the games starting in 2008. Former Detroit Lions general manager Matt Millen was named Collinsworth’s replacement at the same time. Former Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann joined Papa and Millen in the booth for the 2010–11 season. In May 2011, NFL Network announced that Brad Nessler and Mike Mayock would serve as the announcers for that season’s game broadcasts.
In the 2014 season, CBS Sports took over the production of all of the games in the package, and gained the right to simulcast 8 of the games on broadcast television. In 2016, NBC Sports also gained a portion of the package under a similar arrangement. Fox Sports took over the package in 2018.
NFL Network televises all 65 preseason games each August. Some of the games air live on the network; however, a majority of these contests air on a tape-delayed basis and use the local broadcast of one of the teams involved. Live preseason game broadcasts on NFL Network are blacked out in the home markets of both participating teams, where the game is broadcast on a local station; in those affected areas, an alternate feed of NFL Network is shown instead with a different preseason game or a previously aired game. Prior to 2014, NFL Network occasionally broadcast selected preseason games as special editions of Thursday Night Football.
On weekdays, Good Morning Football airs live from 7-10 am, followed by a repeat from 10 am-1 pm.
On Sundays, the NFL GameDay Morning pre-game show airs from 9 am-1 pm, NFL GameDay Live from 1-7:30 pm, NFL GameDay Highlights from 7:30-8:30, and NFL GameDay Prime from 11:30 pm–12:30 am.
Arena Football League
NFL Network held the broadcast rights to the revived Arena Football League from 2010 to 2012. Starting with the 2010 season, the network broadcast a weekly Friday Night Football game each week during the regular season and playoff games at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time from March to August, in addition to rights to playoff games and the ArenaBowl. The NFL stated that unlike when the NFL last showed interest in arena football, there would be no attempts to buy into the league. Broadcasters for the games included Kurt Warner, Tom Waddle, Paul Burmeister, Fran Charles, Charles Davis and Ari Wolfe.
Starting with the 2010 season, the network obtained the broadcast rights to the Arena Football League. Each Friday, the NFL Network aired a Game of the Week from the AFL through the league’s playoffs and culminating with the ArenaBowl. Also beginning in 2010, the channel began to broadcast 14 regular-season games as well as the Grey Cup from the Canadian Football League.
NFL Network ceased airing Arena Football League games partway through the 2012 season as a result of ongoing labor problems within the league. The season’s remaining games were carried on a tape delay before the network terminated the league broadcast contract outright at the end of the season; the rights were then obtained by CBS Sports Network.
In 2006, NFL Network began a foray into televising college football bowl games, acquiring rights to the newly-established Texas Bowl in Houston (whose management rights were held by the Houston Texans at the time), the Insight Bowl, as well as two all-star events—the Senior Bowl (which features NFL prospects that had completed their college eligibility) and the Las Vegas All-American Classic (which, however, was cancelled at the last minute due to financial and sponsorship issues). These games were intended to help make NFL Network more attractive to television providers. The 2006 Insight Bowl, played between Minnesota and Texas Tech, would also achieve notoriety for featuring the largest comeback victory in Division I FBS bowl game history, with Texas Tech coming back from a 38–7 third-quarter deficit to win 44–41 in overtime.
On April 14, 2007, the network televised the Nebraska Cornhuskers’ spring football game. The network again aired the Insight, Texas and Senior bowls in late 2007 and early 2008. In addition, it carried two games between historically black colleges and universities during the 2007 season, including the Circle City Classic at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana. Rights to the Insight and Texas Bowls were later acquired by ESPN (with the former later moving to Fox Sports).
The Senior Bowl and a fellow all-star game, the East-West Shrine Game, remained the only college football games to be regularly shown by NFL Network until May 2019, when it announced a four-year deal with the Conference USA to air a weekly regular-season game on Saturday afternoons beginning in the 2019 season.
High school football
NFL Network aired two high school all-star games in June 2007: the Bayou Bowl between players from Texas and Louisiana on June 9 (via a live feed from regional sports network FSN Southwest), and the Big 33 Football Classic between players from Pennsylvania and Ohio on June 16 (sharing its feed with CN8 (now the Comcast Network) and cable outlets in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Ohio).
Canadian Football League
On July 1, 2010, NFL Network began airing live Canadian Football League games simulcast from Canadian sports network TSN. NFL Network aired the league’s Thursday games, three Saturday games during the month of July, and then Friday night games beginning in September (after ArenaBowl XXIII). NFL Network did not air CFL games during August as it carried a heavy amount of NFL preseason game broadcasts. In addition, NFL Network did not carry any playoff games, including the Grey Cup championship, as those games are all played on Sundays opposite NFL regular season games. Those games were instead broadcast on the ESPN3 online service (ESPN owns a 20% interest in TSN, in a joint venture with majority parent Bell Media). On May 25, 2012, NFL Network announced it would not renew its contract with the CFL. The package was subsequently acquired by the NBC Sports Network, then by the ESPN networks.
NFL Network expressed interest in picking up CFL games again beginning in the 2019 season after its previous deal with ESPN expired. To accommodate this, the NFL insisted that the CFL move its schedule over a month earlier than it currently runs, so that the network can use the league to fill air time between the NFL Draft and training camp. As such a change would require a rework of the league’s collective bargaining agreement, it was unable to fulfill that request and instead renewed its agreement with ESPN.
Alliance of American Football
On January 31, 2019, NFL Network signed a multi-year deal to air Alliance of American Football games, broadcasting two games per week, most of them on Saturday and Sunday nights. The league ultimately folded in the middle of its inaugural season.
NFL Network HD is a 1080i high definition simulcast feed of NFL Network that launched in August 2004. It is available nationally on satellite providers DirecTV and Dish Network, and regionally on Verizon FiOS, AT&T U-verse and most Comcast and Cogeco Cable systems.
In mid-October 2008, in-studio programs began to air in “enhanced HD”, featuring contained additional scores and statistics on a dedicated wing on the right side of the screen that was only visible on the HD feed. Content that is presented in 4:3 standard definition is shown with stylized pillarboxes, or for some footage, blurred pillarbox wings. On May 1, 2009, NFL Total Access began airing in full HD without pillarboxing or enhanced graphics; this was followed by the upgrade of NFL GameDay to HD the following September.
Most providers began to exclusively carry the HD feed of the network during 2011, transmitting a downscaled and letterboxed version of the HD feed to provide the channel in 4:3 standard definition for analog viewers without any deviation, including the “NFL HD” logo. The standard definition feed was discontinued entirely in July 2012, concurrent with the introduction of the network’s current logo.
NFL RedZone channel
Main article: NFL RedZone
The NFL RedZone channel is a special game-day only channel that broadcasts on Sundays during the regular season from 1:00 to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time (10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time). RedZone provides “whip around” coverage of all Sunday afternoon games airing in-progress on CBS and Fox . Whenever a team enters the red zone, the coverage will switch full-screen over to the live feed of that game’s television broadcast, and attempt to cover a potential scoring result (touchdown or field goal). The coverage is hosted by Scott Hanson. This is not to be confused with the completely separate and different Red Zone channel available only on NFL Sunday Ticket.
Starting in 2016 NFL Network during the offseason replayed one week of NFL RedZone every Sunday from the previous season.