From September, fans of American football will be able to watch NFL games live online for free. This is massive news, which signals a significant change of strategy from the National Football League.
The NFL has until now kept a tight rein on the rights to its games, but this move to the Web shows a willingness to move with the times and experiment with Internet streaming.
NBC Streams Live Online
According to the LA Times, NBC will make its television feed of Sunday Night Football, including play by play, and commentary from John Madden, available on multiple websites. Some will be NBC sites, while some will be owned by the league.
Steve Bornstein, chief executive of the NFL Network, called the venture a one year experiment. He refused to discuss financial terms of the deal, but NBC will sell advertising and share the revenue with the NFL. He said:
“We are looking at this as a learning opportunity to see what applications work online. We are trying to be innovative and creative to make the viewing experience better for our fans.”
Excluding The Super Bowl
The online stream will begin with the September 4th game between the Washington Redskins and the New York Giants. It will then feature every Sunday night game, except for the play-offs and the Super Bowl.
It’ll be interesting to see how this venture does, not only in terms of advertising revenue, but also how it affects the traditional television audience.
Whatever happens, this is another indication that the Web is being seen as a viable alternative for viewers who need catering for. NBC is also streaming its coverage of the 2008 Beijing Olympics online.
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