The NFL has good news for fans who don’t want to shell out for cable—but there’s a catch.
With the NFL attempting to cater more of its business to cord-cutters, the league now will offer a new version of its domestic Game Pass service that will allow fans to watch games on computers, mobile devices, or connected TVs… as soon as the live game is complete.
The NFL had previously announced that it will livestream the Bills-Jaguars game in Week 7 on Yahoo, and last week, the league said that CBS for the first time would livestream a pair of regular-season games this season, along with the playoffs and the Super Bowl.
Previously, the NFL had offered a service called NFL Now Plus for $1.99 per month that allowed fans to watch instant highlights and archived league material. But for this season, the league has folded that service into the $99.99 Game Pass, with which fans can watch on-demand HD replays of every single game as soon as it’s finished—including camera angles and other content that were not available on the live broadcast—along with the ability to listen to (but not watch) the games as they’re played live.
The service will also include content provided by NFL Media and the 32 teams, along with other select NFL Network programming, including The Rich Eisen Show. Fans living in the past can watch full replays of games going back to 2009.
“It’s a simplification for our fans,” said David Jurenka, the NFL’s VP of digital media operations. “We looked across every single app in our portfolio and found we were due for simplification.”
Clearly, the NFL is thinking long and hard about how to keep cord-cutting fans engaged in the product. So far, the NFL isn’t allowing mobile access to compete with the actual broadcast games—all the regular-season games that are livestreamed occur during times when no other NFL games are being played—but the NFL also wants to make it easier for fans who don’t have cable or satellite services to watch the games (and, of course, to pay to do so).
“This is a real game-changing year,” NFL chief digital officer Perkins Miller told CNBC. “You’ve seen so much growth in these pure-play native digital apps like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime. … We know our fans are watching broadcast TV; we know they’re touching their mobile phone and want and expect to get content there. We know there’s an emergence of connected TV applications and that we need to be directly accountable to our fans to deliver content there.”