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Video/Media

NFL preps new premium streaming service

Following in the footsteps of Major League Baseball (MLB) and other major sports leagues, the National Football League (NFL) reportedly plans to launch its own premium streaming service in July.

As first reported by Sports Business Journal, NFL owners approved the plan at their meeting in Atlanta earlier this week. The new NFL Plus service will offer live games on mobile phones and tablets and will likely cost about $5 a month, although the pricing could change before launch, according to the report.

But even with the new streaming service, all NFL games will remain on their current broadcast and pay-TV channels. So, NFL Plus will complement, not replace, the league's main TV platforms.

The NFL did not respond to inquiries from Light Reading about the new service.

With the expected July debut, the new streaming service would be up and running in time for the NFL's pre-season games this summer, as well as its regular-season and playoff contests in the fall and winter. The service would reportedly offer the same games that fans can now see on TV stations in their local markets for no charge. In addition, it would feature other football-related content, possibly including radio broadcasts, podcasts and miscellaneous team-created content.

NFL Plus will take the place of football streaming packages that were previously available on Yahoo and Verizon. The deals with those carriers expired after last season. By going it alone in the streaming space, the league will be able to glean greater data on its viewers.

Amazon, Apple wait in the wings

But the new streaming service will remain separate from Sunday Ticket, the popular out-of-market pay service that delivers all NFL games every week. The Sunday Ticket package, which has run exclusively on DirecTV since 1994 on deals set to expire after the upcoming football season, is likely heading to either Amazon or Apple for more than $2 billion a year, according to multiple reports.

Amazon and Apple are also reportedly negotiating with the NFL to take an equity stake in NFL Media Properties, which runs the NFL Network, NFL.com, NFL Films, NFL Mobile, NFL Now and NFL RedZone services. Any deal would likely cover the new NFL Plus service as well.

The NFL Plus plans come after the league struck new agreements with five major media players last year to sell broadcast and pay-TV rights to NFL games for about $110 billion over 11 years. Under those deals, Fox, NBCUniversal, Disney, CBS parent Paramount and Amazon will all carry games each week, starting with the 2023 season.

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— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

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