Updated: NFL Network Ads Blitz Sidelined Ops, While Touting 'Unbeaten Teams'

NFL Network is beating the drum for its pair of contests featuring the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints on taking a run at regular-season perfection, while also reminding consumers that key cable operators still don't carry the service.
The multimedia campaign -- trumpeting the 13-0 teams, with the Colts taking on the Jacksonville Jaguars tonight Dec. 17 and the Saints hosting the Dallas Cowboys on Dec. 19, both at 8 p.m. -- encompasses print, radio (in New York, Los Angeles, Texas and other markets), and online ads with multiple messages.

National ads in The Wall Street Journal and USA Today sport feature images of Colts QB Peyton Manning and Saints signal-caller Drew Brees, interspersed with tune-in information, under the headline: "Don't Miss Two Undefeated Teams." Copy later reads: T"wo Nights. Two Undefeated Teams. One Network." Below that are pitches for NFL Network and its scoring channel NFL RedZone, as well as the log-in: iwantnflnetwork.com.

In local newspapers, the message is more pointed at distributors that don't carry NFL Network, which now counts some 55 million subscribers. In The New York Times, for instance, the in block capital letters reads: "ATTENTION. Time Warner and Cablevision Customers: You May Be Denied Two Teams Chasing The Perfect Season." The ad then gives way to the aforementioned images, tune-in copy and promotional elements.
Other newspapers that feature the ads in today's edition include Los Angeles Times, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star Telegram.
Officials at NFL Network, which on Dec. 16 announced new carriage contracts with Massillon Cable TV, Knology and Grande Communications, say the ads inform fans that Time Warner, Cablevision, Charter and cable operators are denying their customers NFL Network. In Time Warner markets, for example, the spots point out that four of the top five TV providers carry NFL Network, but not the No. 2 cable operator.
That's consistent with the message NFL Network has been promulgating about Time Warner Cable -- albeit in a less strident manner than in seasons past -- over the course of the season, and especially since its eight-game primetime slate kicked off on Nov. 10.
Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Charter and Suddenlink are among the operators that have not reached deals with NFL over pricing and positioning issues.

NFL Network plans to continue the ad blitz into Saturday. Radio spots will continue nationally on XM, while local stations in New York, Los Angeles, St. Louis and Texas will carry tune-in messages that also speak to the network's lack of carriage by area cable operators. Radio promotions, aimed at touting the game and raising awareness for the channel via NFL Network giveaways, are also scheduled for Lone Star State stations in Austin, Waco and Corpus Christi, according to officials at the pro football league's in-house service.

Tune-in promos for New Orleans-Dallas will continue to air on DirecTV, Dish Network and Comcast.