You have heard the disclaimer late in the fourth quarter of any NFL football game you have watched: "This copyrighted broadcast is the property of the National Football League. Any rebroadcast or reproduction without the consent of the NFL is strictly prohibited." The NFL is extremely protective of its product, which is a multibillion dollar industry.
Three television networks (FOX, CBS, NBC) are paying a total of $11.6 billion to broadcast NFL games through the 2011 season. Cable network ESPN is paying $8.8 billion for broadctasing rights through the 2013 season. Additionally, the NFL Network airs eight games per season.
The league-owned cable network began airing rebroadcasts of NFL games during the 2006 season. The network picks four games that carried the most compelling storylines and condensed them into 90-minute versions that air mid-week. The network also re-airs "classic" games, such as playoffs and Super Bowls.
Regularly scheduled television news media outlets are permitted use of 2 to 3 minutes of game video during the season, provided it falls within a 48-hour window following the game.
Prior to Super Bowl XLI in February 2007, the NFL sent notice to several churches about the potential copyright violation of planned game-viewing parties. The league acknowledged a loophole that stipulated that the viewings would not be in violation provided (a) the congregation was not charged admission fees and (b) the viewing apparatus was similar to television sets that would commonly be found in a private home.
1958 NFL Championship
The Baltimore Colts 23-17 victory over the New York Giants in the 1958 NFL Championship is considered by many to be the greatest pro football game every played. On December 13, 2008, ESPN and NFL Films produced and aired the game in the form of a two-hour documentary, complete with colorization of restored footage.