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Historic three-network simulcast planned for Patriots-Giants game

Saturday night’s game between the New England Patriots and New York Giants is too big for just one television network. Or even two.

The Patriots’ quest to finish the season with a historic 16-0 record will be carried on a unprecedented three-way national simulcast of NFL Network, CBS and NBC.

Since its inception in 2006, NFL Network has not been able to work out an arrangement with some of the nation’s biggest cable distributors, including Time Warner, which serves of most of Kansas City.

But with the Patriots on the verge of matching the 1972 Miami Dolphins’ feat of an undefeated season, the NFL arranged with rights holders CBS and NBC for the three-network simulcast of the NFL Network telecast from Giants Stadium. Kickoff is 7:15 p.m., Central time.

This will be the first three-network simulcast in NFL history and the first simulcast of any kind of an NFL game since the Chiefs faced the Packers in 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.

“We have taken this extraordinary step because it is in the best interest of our fans,” said NFL Commissioner Roger 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 to the broad audience that deserves to see this potentially historic game.”

CBS and NBC will carry the NFL Network feed of the game with Bryant Gumbel calling the play by play and Cris Collinsworth serving as analyst.

“I give the NFL a lot of credit,” said Collinsworth. “It would have been easy to hold this out as a marketing chip in negotiating with the cable companies, but for the NFL to say, ‘We understand this is a unique situation, this is history being made potentially,’ and for them to step away from the bargaining table for a moment and say this was in the best interest of NFL fans, it’s pretty impressive.” At the time of Super Bowl I, CBS was the network partner of the NFL, and NBC televised the AFL. In that first Super Bowl on Jan. 15, 1967 _ . Ray Scott, Jack Whitaker and Frank Gifford called the Packers’ 35-10 win over the Chiefs for CBS while Curt Gowdy and Paul Christman broadcast the game on NBC. NFL Network is currently available on 240 cable systems, 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, who don’t want to pass on the cost for having the network on basic tiers, have been unable to work out a deal with the NFL. “A few of the biggest cable operators have refused to negotiate,” said Steve Bornstein, NFL Network President and CEO. “We call on them to do what’s right for their consumers and negotiate agreements for NFL Network that make sense for everybody.” To reach Randy Covitz, NFL writer for The Star, send e-mail to rcovitz@kcstar.com

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