NFL’s OTT service could let it cut out the middleman

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While Amazon may indeed become a key part of the NFL’s immediate future when it comes to the so-called OTT broadcasting of games, there’s another option that the league quietly is considering: Cutting out the middleman and streaming games directly to customers.

As recently explained by John Ourand of SportsBusiness Journal, the NFL has been selling live games directly to consumers in Europe, and the league currently is focused on growing the product. While the league currently doesn’t sell live game action to domestic consumers, it could just be a matter of time before the NFL creates a similar product that would allow the league to manage the experience and retain all revenue.

The question becomes whether a service like Amazon will offer enough money for the ability to stream games in order to make it more financially viable for the league to simply collect the rights fees in lieu of creating its own in-house streaming business.

But here’s the one thing to keep in mind. Even with OTT being a big part of the league’s future, broadcast TV via free over-the-air networks won’t be going away, especially since the NFL would risk losing its broadcast antitrust exemption if the league stops making football available on free TV, a practice the NFL championed several years ago while stubbornly (and clumsily) defending the blackout rule.

Regardless of how it all plays out, big changes are looming for the way live NFL games are consumed, from the way that we watch to the way that the league gets paid for it to, ultimately, how much money the NFL continues to make. Despite the league’s popularity, the NFL has benefited over the years from the willingness of networks to overpay for pro football. If/when that ends, it will be difficult for the league to continue to grow the multi-billion-dollar pie.

15 responses to “NFL’s OTT service could let it cut out the middleman

  1. I said years ago that the NFL is pushing their responsibility to embrace Technology onto other businesses, who are typically averse to modernizing (i.e. Cable/Satellite providers).

    The NFL’s best overall possibility is to do it themselves.

    Then again, Steve Jobs isn’t running the NFL (obviously!) – Supreme Commissioner Goodell is (obviously!), so NFL is very unlikely to do it right.

  2. The NFL needs to use this technology to sell online season tickets to a pacticular team
    or individual game pay per view for $ 100 per year / $ 10 a game. That would increase the size of the pie and help the out of market fan.

  3. Mark Cuban is right

    I grew up watching games on broadcast TV. Cable bills became insane and cut the cord. Now I have to watch games on my laptop you can’t screen mirror broadcast TV with Optimum.

    I missed the draft for the first time in forever. The die hard fan that I am is getting tired of paying through the nose and I can’t be the only one.

    Parents and players at all ages are having 2nd thoughts about playing football. Just a matter of time.

  4. The NFL can do this if they want, the only question is, will it be profitable enough. As this article points outs, Networks currently over-pay for showing NFL games and they wouldn’t want to lose that.

    Right now with the NFL Gamepass, you can watch live Pre-season games, unless the game is been played locally or in your region. The only thing that sucks about watching pre-season games live in that format is, instead of going to commercial they instead go to a dark screen with elevator music. But it can be done, if they want to. They can let fans stream NFL games live in their own format.

  5. If everything becomes pay-per-view whether per game or subscription for a season, you may make more profit at first but you’re cutting off an important segment of everyday people who can’t afford to budget for it so then the fan base declines.

    (And get off of my lawn!)

  6. Maybe Bobby Kraft can watch a few games through the horrendous SundayTicket streaming app.

    Maybe you can pull this off in Europe but not here with America’s backward Internet infrastructure.

  7. If they already have it working for Europe it’s just a matter of when they want to do it. I think this becomes an option when the next wave of network contracts is negotiated. It will be another way to get the games (not exclusive to the NFL) much like the Direct TV deal – just that they get paid directly.

  8. Predicting the future:
    1. Revenues level off and 32 owners are not happy.
    2. Salary cap levels off and 1700 player are not happy.
    3. Tony Romo becomes a Madden like star on CBS and the NFL says hey Tony forget all our issues with your fantasy camp fantasy how can we help you make $$$ we love helping people make $$$ as long as we can make double $$$ that you do we will all be happy.
    4. Someone in the NFL office in NY has a brainstorm and says gambling is the last financial frontier for the NFL to conquer maybe we should put a team in Vegas and figure out a way to gradually accept gambling without looking like idiots and money hungry hypocrites.
    5. LOL!

  9. And the moment people have to specifically buy the games to watch is the day they will die. Just ask boxing. Eventually, younger people realized that watching horrible fights that they were paying $70 for wasn’t any fun. Think to last year and exactly how many games were compelling. Yeah, if they do this, it will bring on their demise. Still, the free OTA channels still afford them with their best access point and will until someone comes up with a better alternative delivery system that is also absolutely free.

  10. I cut the cord a long time ago and don’t miss any games that I want to see. My local broadcast (usually) comes in crystal clear over the airwaves. I can stream games on-line through various sites that are out of market, or I will go to a local sports bar and watch the game there. For the last couple of years, the draft has been broadcast for free via live stream on xbox with the NFL app, AND (biggest bonus) they use the “B” team for the free broadcast so I don’t have to listen to Deion or Mike Irvin. It’s like a win-win.

    I purchased a nice, new mountain bike with my first year of cable bill savings. And then another nicer, newer one with my next.

    Bear witness: we have seen the peak of NFL $$. ESPN is a sign of the times to come. “Hogs get slaughtered”

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