WASHINGTON – The New England Patriots' shot at history Saturday night will be available to every television viewer in the country after months of wrangling.
Their game against the New York Giants, in which the Patriots could become the first NFL team to go 16-0 in the regular season, was originally scheduled to be shown only on the NFL Network. Fewer than 40 percent of the nation's homes with TVs receive the channel.
The league announced Wednesday that the NFL Network feed will be simulcast on NBC and CBS. It's a major concession by league officials, who repeatedly said they would not show the game anywhere but the NFL Network. The NFL had faced mounting pressure from lawmakers in recent weeks to make the game available to more viewers.
Local TV affiliates in the Boston, Manchester, N.H., and New York areas who were already set to simulcast the game under NFL policy will still air it.
The NFL has feuded with major cable companies, who have declined to carry the network as part of basic packages.
"We have taken this extraordinary step because it is in the best interest of our fans," 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 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."
This will be the first three-network simulcast in NFL history and the first simulcast of any kind of an NFL game since the first Super Bowl 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.