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Report: More than 66% of Internet Households Watch NFL Games; What it Means for NFL+, Sunday Ticket

David Satin

Fall is basically here, and that means one thing in the U.S. — the NFL is once again dominating the airwaves. NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” has been the most watched primetime show on television for 11 years in a row, and the company is unlikely to be surrendering that crown this season.

The NFL is incredibly popular with cord cutters, too, according to a report by the market research firm Parks Associates. According to their analysis, 68% of domestic internet households watch NFL games during the regular season. That makes football the most watched sport U.S.

As you can see, football’s closest competition is Major League Baseball and that is still viewed by 20% fewer households every year. This summer, the NFL launched its own over-the-top (OTT) streaming service to capitalize on the sport’s popularity. But just a few months after the roll-out of NFL+, some customers are already noticing the platform’s limitations.

“The NFL+ service included out-of-market preseason games but viewable only on mobile devices,” Parks Associates senior contributing analyst Eric Sorensen said. “Now, with the start of the NFL season, many fans are frustrated with local blackouts on the service. An NFL+ subscription does not guarantee access to every game, but Twitter reactions show the NFL must do a better job of informing fans of the extent and limitations of the product.”

The NFL’s tangled web of distribution rights further complicates the NFL’s goal of creating a comprehensive streaming service for its product.

“The newly minted NFL+ app opens the possibility that all games could be streamed direct-to-consumer in the future,” Parks’ marketing associate Tam Williams said, “but the long-term nature of rights deals means an aggregated fan experience is unlikely in the near term.”

Despite the difficulties, there doesn’t seem to be an impending drop in the price of services like NFL+ or NFL Sunday Ticket, which allows customers to view out-of-market games. There are several companies pursuing the rights to Sunday Ticket as the league’s contract with DIRECTV expires after this season. The NFL knows what it has from a financial standpoint with Sunday Ticket, so the league is rumored to be asking for $3 billion per season for the package.

NFL+

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.

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