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NBC, CBS to show Patriots-Giants

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The NFL had a problem: The Patriots-Giants game Saturday, where New England is trying to go 16-0 is on the NFL Network, available in only a fraction of homes with TV. What if they showed a game and nobody could watch? The NFL announced a solution today:

The NFL has arranged with broadcast television partners CBS and NBC for an unprecedented three-way national simulcast of the NFL Network telecast of Saturday night’s New England Patriots at New York Giants game when the Patriots will try to become the first NFL team to go 16-0 in a regular season, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced today.

“We have taken this extraordinary step because it is in the best interest of our fans,” Commissioner 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 on Saturday night to the broad audience that deserves to see this potentially historic game. Our commitment to the NFL Network is stronger than ever.”

CBS and NBC will carry the NFL Network feed of the game with Bryant Gumbel and Cris Collinsworth in the broadcast booth. The game also will be televised by WCVB-ABC (Channel 5) in Boston, WMUR-ABC in Manchester, New Hampshire (Channel 9) and WWOR (Channel 9) in New York. The telecast begins at 8 p.m. ET with kickoff set at 8:15 p.m. ET.

This will be the first three-network simulcast in NFL history and the first simulcast of any kind of an NFL game since 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. CBS was the network partner of the NFL at that time and NBC televised the AFL. In that first Super Bowl – in which the NFL Green Bay Packers beat the AFL Kansas City Chiefs 35-10 in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on January 15, 1967 – Ray Scott, Jack Whitaker and Frank Gifford called the game for CBS while Curt Gowdy and Paul Christman broadcast the game on NBC.

This will give the NFL Network some positive pub in its battle with cable companies, who do not want to carry the channel unless they can put it on a digital tier. It is a win for CBS and NBC, who will get better ratings showing the game than they would airing repeats over a holiday weekend. It also means that the whole country will have to listen to Gumbel doing play by play. Gumbel is great on HBO's "Real Sports" but awful calling football. --Jim Buzinski