Is The NFL Throwing Shade On 'Spulu'? Now, The Game Gets Complicated

The NFL, which it says was “a bit surprised” by the proposed sports streamer from Walt Disney (ESPN)-Fox Corp.- Warner Bros. Discovery, now offers up its own bit of a surprise -- touting one of its other partners as possible competition: YouTube TV.

At an recent industry event, Brian Rolapp, chief media/business officer of the NFL, gives consumers a fair comparison to other services when he says the proposed sports streamer -- which some analysts are calling "Spulu," a riff on the Disney streamer, Hulu -- could be at a high $40- to-$50-a-month price tag.

Rolapp says is expensive for this type of limited streamer -- adding that for “$20 more” consumers can buy an entire virtual pay TV bundle (YouTube TV, for $73  a month), and get all the NFL games, as well as tons of scripted and unscripted entertainment.  Rolapp says the new streaming service would be “missing more than half of NFL football.” 



And he has a point. Consider NFL aficionados who realized they needed to spend a few extra bucks just to get an additional NFL Wild Card Playoff game that Peacock had exclusively in January of this year.

Rolapp is careful not to throw too much shade on the “Spulu” situation -- given that Disney and Fox are current and long-time NFL partners -- and he says he doesn’t know exactly what the trio of legacy TV-based media companies have actually planned for the service.

Digging deeper, there is another factor to consider here -- the continuous nonstop talk and news stories around ESPN looking for a strong sports league partner going forward -- as in the NFL.

So this begs the question: how much influence would the NFL have in any decision-making process -- as an equity partner -- when it comes to Disney-ESPN efforts to push further into the streaming world? And would this include not just the proposed “Spulu” but also Disney’s own effort to totally shift the entire cable TV network of ESPN into a full-fledged live streaming channel?

It would seem a Disney-ESPN equity deal would only give the NFL a minority stake, not operational control. In addition, the deal could give ESPN ownership of NFL Media and the NFL Network.

But what does the NFL actually get for its investment going forward? 

Back to YouTube TV comparisons.

What Rolapp might be missing is that spending $20 more on anything streaming is a big deal for consumers. That can buy consumers around two to three other streaming services, depending on the option (ad-supported, ad-free, or otherwise).

All to say the consumer price calculation might not be all that clear -- and the goal posts keep moving.

1 comment about "Is The NFL Throwing Shade On 'Spulu'? Now, The Game Gets Complicated".
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  1. Ben B from Retired, March 25, 2024 at 8:26 p.m.

    LOL the NFL throwing shade NFL Sunday Ticket cost an arm & leg to get on YouTube that is what the NFL forgot to say.

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