Spending all Sunday on the couch dribbling salsa and Bud Light on your team’s favorite jersey is a timeless American pastime. What’s more American than football and TV? The very nature of the sport has been molded over the years to be a television spectacle, with rules like TV timeouts even written for TV audiences in mind. Given how many households are cutting the cable and moving to streaming video, though, you’d think that the NFL would be embracing streaming entirely. However, according to reports published this week the NFL is beginning to question if its current model of streaming through DirecTV Sunday Ticket is working.
Sports Business Journal’s Daniel Kaplan writes that “the NFL wants to analyze how much demand there is for offering games digitally rather than just through satellite before making its decision.” In other words, the NFL is crunching the numbers on how many NFL viewers are streaming NFL online without cable before making its decision on whether or not to end Sunday Ticket.
The NFL was originally going to make the call this season but has pushed the decision back to the spring in order to gather more data before deciding. Many outlets have pointed out that rather than being a sign of the end times for streaming football, the move could signal that the NFL wants to split up its streaming rights among new distributors or a larger variety of carriers. The NFL has already licensed Thursday Night Football to Amazon Prime, while cable-replacing streaming services like Sling TV or Hulu with Live TV already offer the channels on which the NFL is broadcast.
As more and more ways to watch sports online without cable open up, every sports league and franchise in the world is figuring out ways to open up access to games for streaming viewers. The NBA already offers per-game or per-team streaming subscriptions, and other leagues are working towards similar offerings. Could the NFL be eyeing a similar product?