With the NFL continuously trying to determine how to keep fans coming into the stadium, rather than sitting at home in front of monstrous HD TVs where they don’t have to pay exorbitant prices for food, beer, and parking, the league also is attempting to make things easier for those who’d rather avoid the live show altogether.
Thus, there was interesting news to emerge from the league’s owners meeting Monday, including the Wall Street Journal’s report that the NFL will livestream one game in 2015 that will only will be available online. That means that contest will not appear on any national television outlets, including the major networks, ESPN, or DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket. It’s the first time in the league’s history that a game will be nationally distributed solely online.
Writes the WSJ’s Kevin Clark: “For this upcoming season’s Jacksonville Jaguars-Buffalo Bills game in Week 7, the NFL will sell the rights to a digital distribution company, be it YouTube, Facebook or another company. The game will start at 9:30 a.m. Eastern time and will be played in London.”
For the Jacksonville and Buffalo markets, the game reportedly will still be available on local TV.
In 2014, the NFL re-signed a deal with DirecTV that gives the satellite provider access to every Sunday afternoon game for its Sunday Ticket and Red Zone channel packages, while all four of the major networks re-upped with the league in 2011, paying about $1 billion each per year in order to televise professional football.
But the NFL—which also Monday decided to erase its long-standing blackout policy for 2015, one which allowed the league to not show local TV audiences their local teams if that game didn’t sell out—clearly is trying to keep pace with modern technology.
That’s why the past few Super Bowls have been available for livestreaming in HD and why the league’s teams have made it a point in recent seasons to improve each stadium’s Wi-Fi capabilities.
Of course, making that Jaguars-Bills game—which likely wouldn’t have attracted network prime-time interest anyway—online only won’t make everybody happy. Especially those who pay to watch every one of those team’s games through DirecTV.
If the @NFL truly does only allow streaming of the Bills Jags game outside Buf and Jax markets, they have failed @DIRECTV Customers who pay— William Foss (@wfoss) March 23, 2015
Photo via Joe Shlabotnik/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)