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Stations Clash With Cable Over 'Boston' Patriot Game

The NFL has defined the New England Patriots’ home market as greater Boston, and greater Boston alone, reports the Wall Street Journal, in advance of the Pats-Jets game tomorrow on NFL Network. Fans can watch the game on WCVB Boston and WMUR Manchester (NH), but Pats diehards outside that DMA–the team technically represents six states–have to find it on NFL Network.

Matthew Futterman reports:
In accordance with league policy, only fans in the Boston metropolitan area and Manchester, N.H., will be able to see Thursday night’s showdown with the rival New York Jets on two ABC Network affiliates. Many other fans across New England will have to search for an outlet that gets the league-owned NFL Network, a cable channel that only about 40% of U.S. households receive.

The Journal says around 40% of U.S. households get NFL Network. Locally, Cox, which covers much of Rhode Island, has the football channel, as do DirecTV and Dish. Comcast and Time Warner do not. 

Hearst-Argyle’s Boston-area stations are playing a little third-and-one with the cable operators: 

Last week at the NFL’s direction, ABC Boston affiliate WCVB and its sister station WMUR in Manchester ordered Comcast to black out the Patriots-Jets game for some 300,000 households in New England with cable packages that retransmit those stations on systems outside the Boston-Manchester markets.

Comcast has refused, saying neither the NFL norWalt DisneyCo.’s ESPN demanded such action when the Patriots played the Denver Broncos on ESPN’s Monday Night Football.