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The NFL comes to cyberspace

NBC's slate of 17 Sunday-night football games will be available, live and free, on the Internet. The games will be streamed live at both NBCSports.com and NFL.com, where fans can essentially produce their own telecast.

They'll be able to choose among several different camera angles, including "star cam" -- isolating on a single player. They can even watch from two different angles at once using picture-picture technology. They can call up highlights from earlier in the game at any time, as well as a variety of up-to-the-minute statistics. They can even argue with NBC sportscasters via a live blog. Meanwhile, they'll be getting the audio track from the television feed of the game, including John Madden, Al Michaels and sideline reporter Andrea Kremer.

This will be the first time time an NFL game has been on the Internet in America live and free of charge. And it might be the last. NBC announced the cybercast (which it calls Sunday Night Football Faithhill Extra) Monday as a one-year experiment for the NFL to guage viewer interest. But the more popular it is, the more it competes with a telecast that NBC paid a zillion dollars for. The NFL has undoubtedly has a future on the Internet, but as Janis Joplin used to say, nothin', honey, nothin' it ain't free. At least, not for long.

And yes, smart guy, I realize that's not Janis Joplin over on the right. It's Faith Hill, who NBC announced Monday will be singing the Sunday Night Football theme and appearing in various time-wasting promos that you can avoid by watching the game on the Internet.

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