Why Does NFL+ Exist If It Won’t Have Exclusive Games?
In recent months, several sports leagues have launched their own streaming services to supplement the actual games on other platforms. Why would they do this?
The NFL+ Data Play
According to a report from Sportico, it’s all about user data.
“The better you know your fan, the better you can serve your fan,” Endeavor president Mark Shapiro told Sportico. Consumer data can offer streaming services various ways to help improve and shape the viewer experience. But why create a platform that only allows live game viewing on mobile devices or tablets?
A rights-owner-controlled over-the-top (OTT) service allows the company itself to own audience data. Along with the growing number of cord-cutters ditching cable options and adopting new streaming platforms, many companies have chosen to capitalize upon the collection (and distribution) of consumer data.
According to Sam Yardley of the data platform Two Circles, the extension of the NFL network also allows for opportunities to potentially “weave in sports betting and fantasy, merchandise, ticketing. There are all these different directions you can go in, which starts to build up a [even] richer audience profile.”
Is NFL+ a Bargaining Chip For Next Rights Deal?
One tantalizing possibility is that the NFL or other leagues could simply ditch linear networks and go direct-to-consumer. Football fans might be willing to pay a premium for every game, NFL Network, NFL RedZone, and none of the other channels that weigh down the cost of a live TV streaming solution.
That may seem unlikely, but the mere existence of NFL+ means that the league can threaten that when the current rights deal expires. Considering that the NFL accounted for 75 of the top 100 live broadcasts in 2021, it’s possible those bloated NFL deals may actually be somewhat undervalued.
Still, don’t count on leagues to abandon linear channels for DTC options just yet. “There’s always a bigger check available for selling the rights than there is money to be had for selling direct-to-consumer subscriptions.” Yardley told Sportico.
Remember, WWE gave up on the standalone streamer WWE Network when it folded itself within Peacock last year. Going it alone does cap your potential, and it makes it more difficult to draw in future fans. Consider how boxing has fallen off the face of the entertainment landscape after putting so many marquee events behind a PPV wall.
What Can You Watch with NFL+?
The basic idea behind the creation of these platforms is to help expand coverage for die-hard fans and increase engagement among the existing fan base.
Whether sports fans see the value in the platform is to be determined. Perhaps there will be more to come with NFL+ and NFL+ Premium, but for now, data seems to be the main prize, with negotiating leverage as a side-benefit in the years to come.
NFL+ allows fans to watch live local and primetime games on mobile and tablet devices. And with an NFL+ Premium subscription, you can watch replays of every single game without ads, condensed game replays, and coaches film. The service also allows fans to choose their audio stream (home, away, and national calls).
The service also allows users to watch out-of-market preseason games on any device. Users can also access NFL library programming ad-free.