NFL To Pay TV Providers: A Different Kind Of TV Everywhere World?

Is the owner of the best-rated TV show sending a signal to pay TV providers that it might be changing the game in future years?

With a deal in which CBS will stream seven more NFL games this season on digital platforms, the NFL seems to be testing the waters for a different kind of TV Everywhere world

That’s because viewers won’t need to be “authenticated” — or to prove they are regular monthly paying customers of cable, satellite, or telco TV providers.

‘TV Everywhere’ is a nice marketing line derived from pay TV providers. It suggests that not only is media stuff available from pay TV providers on every platform and device, but as if, in part, it could be free. That isn’t the case.

NFL games offered in this manner aren’t new. The last two Super Bowls were accessible by consumers -- with no need for authentication or payment. For those big events, there was little to worry about: Traditional TV viewers view the big Super Bowl event typically among friends/family in big parties. A big TV event needs a big screen.



The NFL is also making available these seven streaming games -- two regular season games, four AFC playoff games, and the next Super Bowl -- on mobile devices, tablets, desktops, and laptops, as well as on connected TV devices. Sounds  not only like TV Everywhere, but TV Free Everywhere.

NFL has been smart strategically. Five of the seven streaming games are high-rated. While some will be watching online, those heavily viewed games typically need big TV screens -- and that comes on traditional TV screens.

For example, this year’s Super Bowl, on NBC in February, pulled in another traditional TV viewing record -- 114.4 million viewers according to Nielsen. But streaming of the game was at 2.5 million viewers -- a nice number, but not eye-opening, and one that was up 9% versus the year before.

Right now the NFL benefits handsomely from the traditional TV ecosystem. TV networks get huge revenues in terms of retransmission/carriage fees from pay TV providers, which, in turn, helps pay for the billions in rights fee to the NFL.

No matter. It seems the NFL continues to flex its athlete negotiating muscles -- in somewhat of a touchdown celebration a player might make.

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