In addition to possibly generating new fans and revenues from countries such as China and India, the move dovetails with another league goal: exploiting new-media opportunities. It's the first time the full NFL season will be accessible via the Web. In addition to broadband, the NFL has moved aggressively into the mobile-phone and satellite-radio arenas.
The Yahoo deal allows the NFL to reach fans worldwide without enduring the tedious and potentially contentious process of cutting TV deals with cable and satellite operators in individual countries.
Consumers can view games via the subscription service for $24.99 a week, or $249.99 for the full 17-week season. "NFL Game Pass" games will be available on-demand for up to 24 hours following their conclusion.
One catch: the subscription fees may be pricey for those in lower economic strata in China and India. Given that reality, the NFL may favor consumers in wealthier European countries and Japan, rather than emerging markets. Of course, ex-pats are also targets. The league is always loath to distribute its content for bargain-basement prices.
"We are pleased to offer NFL fans around the world an innovative way to watch NFL games," says Brian Rolapp, the NFL's vice president of media strategy. "The NFL is committed to taking advantage of new technologies to bring more value to our fans everywhere. Yahoo's proven leadership in technology makes them an ideal partner for a product like 'Game Pass.'"
International Yahoo and NFL Web sites and other properties will promote the service.