Editor’s note: One day after this story was published, Comcast announced it had signed a new distribution agreement with the National Football League to restore NFL Network to its line-up. The agreement also covers NFL RedZone, which will be made available to customers later in the year. For the updated story, click or tap here.
Comcast has pulled two television channels programmed by the National Football League (NFL) from its Xfinity pay television service.
The channels, NFL Network and NFL RedZone, no longer appear on Comcast’s pay television service after a carriage agreement was allowed to expire at the end of April. The expiration of the contract mostly impacts NFL Network, which had just finished airing the 2023 NFL Draft showcasing new talent that were signed to its 32 teams over the weekend.
Comcast has not published a statement on its decision to drop the channels, and neither NFL Network nor NFL RedZone were listed on a Comcast webpage outlining television networks scheduled to be dropped because of expiring contracts when The Desk checked in mid-April (though both are listed now).
Comcast and the NFL have been at odds over the channels in the past: In 2018, Comcast shifted NFL Network to its Digital Preferred subscription plan in most areas, which means Xfinity subscribers had to pay more to get the channel. (NFL RedZone has always been sold by Comcast as an à la carte channel separate from a traditional pay television package.)
It is also not the first time pay television customers have had to go without the NFL’s cable channels: DirecTV customers have been without NFL Network and NFL RedZone for several years, even while DirecTV served as the official provider of the NFL’s Sunday Ticket package. (DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket RedZone was its own product, sold exclusively to NFL Sunday Ticket subscribers.) Meanwhile, DirecTV competitor Dish Network dropped NFL Network and NFL RedZone from its satellite service and streaming product Sling TV nearly three years ago, only for the channels to resurface on Dish and Sling TV on the first official weekend of the NFL’s 2020-21 football season.
Comcast’s customers won’t necessarily be without anything by losing NFL Network and NFL RedZone several months before the start of football season. NFL Network typically offers coverage of each team’s practice session during the off-season as well as football related news like trades and post-draft contract signings, but this news is also covered by ESPN, CBS Sports, Fox Sports, NBC Sports and the NFL itself through their websites and apps. NFL RedZone is currently dormant, and is only active during the regular football season.
It wasn’t clear if Comcast’s dispute was due to fees charged by the NFL for carriage of NFL Network and NFL RedZone, or if something else was in play. Officials at Comcast and the NFL have not spoken publicly about the matter as of Monday evening.
Football fans who need their fix can stream the free, ad-supported NFL Channel on platforms like Pluto TV and Fox Corporation’s Tubi. NFL Channel offers rebroadcasts of select football games of interest along with documentaries, special programming and occasional news updates.
Those who absolutely need their NFL Network fix should consider subscribing to Sling TV’s Sling Blue package, which offers NFL Network for just $40 a month. New Sling TV subscribers can get NFL Network through Sling Blue for just $20 during their first month of service when they sign up by clicking or tapping this link. Xfinity TV customers who use X1 set-top boxes to watch live TV content can watch the NFL Network through the Sling TV app on those devices, or they can use a separate streaming device like a Roku or Amazon Fire TV stick to watch NFL Network on Sling TV.