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NFL's Bornstein: Innovate or 'fizzle out'

March 18, 2010 |  1:29 pm

Steve Bornstein, the National Football League's brash executive vice president of media and president of the NFL Network, took issue with concerns raised by Fox Sports President Ed Goren about the league's recent deal with Verizon to stream content on its phones and its new Red Zone cable network.

BORNSTEIN Speaking at IMG and Sports Business Journal's annual World Congress of Sports conference on Thursday, Bornstein said the NFL "needs to provide different ways to digest your content," adding that if you don't innovate, "you will fizzle out" and "lose the next generation."

On Wednesday at the same conference, Goren expressed worries about the NFL's deals for undercutting their broadcast partners. News Corp.'s Fox Broadcasting shells out north of $700 million a year for rights to the NFL.

The Red Zone, a cable channel the NFL launched last season, shows live coverage of Sunday's games whenever a team is inside an opposing team's 20 yard line, which is known as the red zone. The NFL also recently struck a deal with Verizon that will give the phone company streaming rights to the Sunday night games on NBC and the Thursday night games on the NFL Network. Verizon also will offer the Red Zone on its phones.

For networks such as Fox, the fear is that spreading NFL content on more and more platforms could hurt its viewing audience and, subsequently, ad dollars. Bornstein said the NFL does not want to kill the golden goose and cracked that Goren is "entitled to his wrong opinions."

At a second panel about television and sports, Joe Ravitch, a former senior partner at Goldman Sachs who has since founded Raine, a boutique bank, warned about the rising costs of sports programming.

"It will reach a point where sports rights can't keep increasing, Ravitch said. Otherwise, he said, it may reach a point where ESPN is the only player.

-- Joe Flint

Photo: Steve Bornstein. Credit: NFL.