ESPN & The NFL Network in talks

SportsBiz Blog notes that the NFL and ESPN are in talks to show some NFL Network programming (mostly the NFL games that the network has exclusive rights to) on the ESPN Classic channel. This performs an end-run around various cable operators who have been balking at adding the NFL Network to the basic or digital cable packages.

I see what’s in this for the NFL Network, and I assume ESPN is in this just to get some better programming on ESPN Classic and generate better ad revenue. But wouldn’t ESPN do better in the long run to let the NFL Network terminate itself by refusing to negotiate with the cable operators? Then ESPN could have those games for all the ad revenue, instead of just sharing it.