http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/28/sports/football/28nfl.html?_r=1&pagewanted=print January 28, 2006 N.F.L. Roundup NFL Network Will Carry Eight Prime-Time Games By RICHARD SANDOMIR The National Football League will place eight prime-time Thursday and Saturday games on its NFL Network starting in 2006, a senior league executive said. The league had been negotiating intently in recent weeks with Comcast, the largest cable operator in the country, about putting games on what would be a reconstituted OLN network and expanding distribution of the NFL Network on Comcast systems, where it is carried on a digital tier. But yesterday morning, the league decided not to go into business with Comcast and to put the games on the NFL Network, which has had preseason games but no regular-season broadcasts. Comcast had no comment. Putting the games on the NFL Network is a change for the league, which is accustomed to being richly compensated by networks with rights fees. Now, the NFL Network is building its own asset, for which it can presumably charge higher monthly subscriber fees while still collecting huge payments from CBS, Fox, NBC, ESPN and DirecTV. The schedule is made up of games that would have been on Saturdays late in the season on CBS or Fox, or on those networks' regional schedules, said the executive, who was granted anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the deal. The first game will be on the Thanksgiving night, between the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins. All games will be simulcast on local broadcast stations in the markets of the teams playing. The NFL Network has 35 million cable and satellite subscribers, and it the addition of regular-season games will probably vastly increase its customer base and add cable operators like Time Warner and Charter, which have so far resisted signing on. "They'll be able to build the NFL Network into something far more significant," said Marc Ganis, a sports industry consultant. "On the 357 days when games are not being carried, N.F.L. programming will be going into people's homes." The eight-game package had been the subject of talks with ESPN and News Corporation, the parent of Fox Broadcasting, but at the end, the discussions were between Comcast and the league. The league's decision to build the NFL Network with regular-season games comes nine months after it completed deals with NBC Universal Sports on a six-year, $3.6 billion deal to carry Sunday night games and with ESPN on an eight-year, $8.8 billion contract to show "Monday Night Football." In November 2004, CBS and Fox extended their Sunday deals for six years, with CBS paying $622 million annually and Fox paying $712 million. DirecTV extended its contract for $3.5 billion over five years.