The National Football League’s (NFL) planned direct-to-consumer (DTC) subscription service will offer live mobile streaming of matches when it goes live in time for the new season.
Until now, the league has revealed few details about what form NFL+ will take when it launches in September, although it was widely anticipated that it would include mobile streaming following the end of its agreement with US mobile operator Verizon.
Writing for US magazine Sports Illustrated, the league’s chief media and business officer Brian Rolapp confirmed that live games would be bundled with a range of other content as a subscription available from the official NFL mobile app.
Streaming was a huge priority for the league as it seeks to reach a wider, more youthful audience and NFL+ formed part of that mission.
‘NFL+ was born out of our belief that to better serve our current fans and help grow new ones, we need to increasingly meet fans where they are,’ wrote Rolapp.
‘NFL+ will provide fans access to live local and national NFL games on mobile devices, live out-of-market preseason games across all devices, live local and national audio for every game, NFL Network shows on-demand, NFL Films archives and more—providing football flexibility so fans never have to miss football again.’
Rolapp added that although linear broadcasting remained hugely important for the NFL – as its ten-year agreements with CBS, ESPN/ABC, Fox and NBC worth US$100 billion clearly show – increased coverage on digital platforms was one of its biggest priorities. NFL+ will become part of a digital broadcast mix that also includes Amazon’s Prime Video platform as the league seeks to expand its audience and reach younger demographics.
Starting this season, ESPN+ will broadcast its first exclusive matchup, while Prime Video becomes the broadcaster of Thursday Night Football (TNF) – the first time a full package of games will be available solely on a streaming platform. Sunday Ticket, the NFL’s package of out-of-market games, will also become a streaming product, with Apple, Amazon and Disney all competing for the rights.
‘Digital viewership of our games has doubled over the past three seasons and is attracting audiences that approach or even exceed television viewership for other professional sports leagues,’ added Rolapp.
‘[TNF on Amazon Prime] is not unlike 35 years ago when the NFL created a package of live NFL games on ESPN for the first time, creating an entire new way to watch football. Back then, not every household had cable television, but that was changing.’
Rolapp gave little away in terms of who would win the race for Sunday Ticket or much concrete about the future of NFL Media, but did say the league planned to expand the use of data in its broadcast and its interest in social media, metaverse and video game platforms.
‘Technology has changed everything about how we consume the NFL content we love. There is so much more to watch, read and listen to then ever before, all made possible by the technology in our pockets and the wireless internet around us,’ Rolapp concluded. ‘The NFL’s mission to reach as many people as possible using the dominant media platforms of the day is the same today as it [was in the 1960s].’
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