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NFL Commissioner Asked About Possible Partner for Digital Properties; Who Could it Be?

Jeff Kotuby

Who could the NFL partner with in order to bolster its media properties as it’s now been confirmed they won’t sell off NFL Network, NFL RedZone, or NFL Sunday Ticket?

During an interview with CNBC’s Julia Boorstin, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell spoke further on the recent report suggesting the NFL could look to partner or even sell some of its properties, including NFL RedZone, NFL Sunday Ticket, and even NFL.com.

Goodell denied the notion that the league would outright sell these digital assets but did say the league was looking to partner with a media entity in some capacity.

“We have a tremendous amount of interest from tech partners, traditional media companies,” Goodell said. “What we’re looking to do is bring in a strategic partner who will help us look at our assets and figure out how to take them into the next technology. We’re not getting out — we’re going to continue to be investors.”

Goodell brought up the NFL’s new deal with Amazon as a step towards its push for a greater digital and streaming presence. Amazon will now be the exclusive home of the NFL’s Thursday Night Football starting in 2022. Amazon makes a lot of sense to be the NFL’s main digital partner, as there’s now an existing infrastructure in place to stream NFL games thanks to the new deal. It would remain to be seen how the NFL’s other broadcast partners, NBC, Fox, CBS, and ESPN, would respond to such a deal.

Boorstin also brought up another interesting name — Apple. Apple would no doubt love to bring live sports to Apple TV+ and the company was potentially linked to Sunday Ticket in the past. In July, The Information reported Apple was interested in the NFL’s out-of-market package. Apple also hired former Amazon head of sports James DeLorenzo in June 2020, who negotiated Amazon’s deal with the NFL, to run the sports division for ‌Apple TV+‌. They had previously been in talks to acquire streaming rights to the Pac-12 Network.

The NFL could always play it safe and stick with one of their traditional media partners, whether they choose ViacomCBS (who can offer a streaming relationship with Paramount+), NBCUniversal with Peacock, or Disney with ESPN+, they have plenty of streaming options available. That also does not leave out companies like Facebook or Google to come out of left field and swoop up this opportunity.

No matter who wins this proposed NFL partnership deal, that company will reap massive benefits, as evidenced by the NFL’s multi-billion dollar rights deal that closed earlier this year.

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