Recently I wrote an article that basically argued the only thing that is currently keeping cable television alive are sports. While that is debatable, you can’t argue that today people are finding cable TV to be less relevant everyday with the rise in popularity of streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu. The NFL made a huge move this season when they announced that Twitter would be live streaming 10 of the 16 Thursday night games for free. This came about after a bidding war for the streaming rights between Amazon, Yahoo, Verizon, and Twitter. Recently, the only time an NFL game had been live streamed for free was in the 2015 season when Yahoo streamed a game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Buffalo Bills that was played in London. Live streaming NFL games is a huge move that has huge implications for both TV and the internet. I think these implications are great for us, the consumer.
Currently, in order to watch NFL games, you need either rabbit ears that will allow you to pick up NBC, Fox, or CBS or you need a cable package. In order to watch Monday night games, you need a cable package that includes ESPN and you need NFL Network for a handful of the Thursday night games as well. However, if you get any of these cable packages, you only get the games in your region. What that means is you only get the games that are being aired in your area. If you live in the Pittsburgh area, you will most likely get all of the Pittsburgh games aired in your region. For someone like me, who is a Dallas Cowboys fan who lives nowhere near Dallas, this is a problem because I won’t be able to watch all the Cowboys games on my cable package. The only way around the region problem is to get NFL Sunday Ticket, which requires a DirecTV subscription.
Here comes the solution. If the NFL can stream all their games, then fans can watch their teams play, regardless of where they are located. I think that because the NFL is king, a paid streaming package or a free online streaming platform would work. Being the huge NFL fan that I am, I would easily pay $100 to $150 to be able to stream any NFL game on any of my devices. I think this would be a great way for the NFL to cut the middleman (the cable networks) and get direct revenue for their games. They could also even through in advertisements and double up on their revenue. The alternative, which is better for consumers, is to go with the free streaming route. By taking advantage of popular, high-traffic websites such as Amazon, Yahoo, Google, YouTube, Twitter, and more, the NFL could establish a strong internet presence and make a good amount of money on advertisements. However, the ratings for the live streams needs to be high. Luckily, it seems that Twitter’s live stream of last week’s game between the Bills and Jets did fairly well with an average of 243,000 viewers at any given time. The Twitter stream was viewed by roughly 15.2 million people with one third of that audience coming from outside of the US. Imagine the opportunity to grow to more international markets for the NFL. I would much rather prefer the NFL to stream their games free on the internet, which is why I am asking everyone to tune in and show the NFL that streaming games for free is a good thing. The more people live stream the games, the higher the ratings will be, which could potentially lead to more games being streamed on the internet. Of course, the NFL makes way too much money on television as it is for them to switch everything over. But I believe that if a significant amount of people will watch these games online that it’ll make a huge difference.
What do you think of the NFL live-streaming their games on Twitter? Are you for it or against it? Let us know in the comments below!