The Wrongest Yard: NFL 2016 Streaming Package

One lucky thing about Yahoo’s cutbacks and semi-annual re-think of what the heck it is doing is that reportedly it won’t be bidding again to live stream an NFL game next season

But the world wide list of potential online partners is still formidable. According to the Variety, interested parties include Apple, Amazon, Google and Verizon’s Go90 mobile service. That’s the top tier of digital players, for sure. 

They must see some upside by partnering up with the NFL now with the hopes that later on, when the streaming rights aren’t just a wan, lucrative afterthought, the league will remember its early digital chumps.

Let’s back up, twice. First, recall that last season, Yahoo paid a reported $20 million to live stream and NFL game, between two non-marquee teams--the first ever, digital-only NFL game. From London. That started at 9:30 a.m. EST.  

By all accounts Yahoo sold the time and the game telecast had a few early technical burps but otherwise, no problems. While Yahoo was happy that 15.2 million people saw a few minutes of it, overall the average audience 2.36 million, worldwide, which is 10 to 15 million fewer than watch an average NFL game on television, just in this country.  

Now, a big more background.  The NFL just announced it has split up its Thursday games package that CBS had alone. Now it will share the package with NBC and the NFL Network, and a streamer, or possibly more than one, to be fleeced later. 

For the last two years, CBS had that eight game package by itself, for which it paid  $300 million last season. In the new arrangement, CBS will pay $225 million for just five Thursday games; so will NBC, for another five.

And all of the games will be simulcast by NFL Network, which also keeps rights to eight other games, including, I suppose, those snoozy contests from London.

Such a deal. Said the Sporting News, “CBS got hosed.”

And keep that hose out! Because oh, yes, those games also will be streamed. But to what advantage? These won’t be playoff games, or hard to access, and I’m guessing that annual London game will be part of the package. 

Unless every cord-cutter or cord-never, impoverished college student, security guard and second shift worker is fascinated by a random, overexposed NFL game, the potential audience can’t be that great. Yahoo had just 2.36 million viewers for a game it shared with nobody. 

Yes, the NFL is a powerful lure for an OTT provider like Apple and Amazon, or pay service like Google’s new YouTube Red, and especially a mobile-only service like Go90. It’s hard to believe a stream of these games will do better than Yahoo did with one sorry game being played on a sleepy Sunday morning, and probably a lot worse. 

The NFL probably likes its position though. Google,  Apple and Amazon fight it out to claim rights as the world’s most valuable corporation; Verizon is just the most dominant provider in a rapidly expanded mobile universe, trying to grow Go90 into a strategic powerhouse (with the NFL, among others). They've got money to burn, and so do their competitors. So don’t expect any of the likely suspects will walk away from the playing field, even as unlevel as it is.

1 comment about "The Wrongest Yard: NFL 2016 Streaming Package".
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  1. Michael Elling from IVP Capital, LLC, February 9, 2016 at 9:46 a.m.

    Here's the problem with the G/A/A vs VZ comparison: the former are at the "core" of the network and have complete (holistic) view of demand.  VZ only has its narrow view of demand as defined by its silo.  This is the flaw in the vertically integrated "edge" access business model and why it can't survive.

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