For many years, subscribing to the DirecTV NFL Sunday Ticket package was the one way for fans to be sure they could see every NFL game. But this year, that won’t be the case.
The league will stream the October 25 Jaguars-Bills game in London online, and will not offer the game on DirecTV, according to Kevin Clark of the Wall Street Journal.
That’s a raw deal for DirecTV customers, many of whom subscribe to DirecTV solely because they want to be able to watch every NFL game. If you’re a Bills fan living outside Buffalo or a Jaguars fan living outside Jacksonville, you’re out of luck. (The league will allow the game to be broadcast over the air in the Buffalo and Jacksonville TV markets.)
The details of the online stream have not yet been announced, but the NFL is expected to sell the rights to a partner like YouTube or Facebook. For many viewers, online streaming is second nature, and this won’t be a major issue at all. If the online streaming platform works well on mobile devices, some fans may actually prefer it to the traditional TV broadcast. (The game will air in the morning in the United States, so quite a few Jaguars and Bills fans will likely bring their smart phones to church with them that day.) But there are still millions of Americans who don’t have fast enough Internet connections to support online streams, and those fans will be out of luck for this game.
The concerns of those fans aside, it’s easy to see why the NFL wants to do this. Online video is the wave of the future, and the NFL produces America’s most popular video content. That October Jaguars-Bills game is just one small step toward a future in which every NFL game is available online — and a time when fans who want to see every NFL game don’t need a satellite dish on the roof.