Tag Archives: Paid content

The NFL Takes a Baby Step

Not long ago I wrote an article wondering if the NFL would join the media revolution that the other major US sports are already in.

Apparently a couple of recent emails I have received are answering that question and the answer is, well, kind of.

Will they provide a way to purchase games online?  Yes, and No.  Will they provide a way pick and choose what game(s) you want to buy?  No.

This is what they are doing.  First, they are, for the first time ever, providing an online subscription to games.  It’s not A la carte though.  Instead, you have to buy a subscription to all of the games.  And, it’s only for the pre-season.  That’s 50 games for $39.99 and you can sign up here.  And here’s what you will get:

ALL NEW! Watch over 50 preseason games live and on-demand* with enhanced features like Big Play Markers, home and away game radio broadcast*, and multiple-game viewing. Scout for your fantasy team all preseason long and never miss a rookie’s breakout moment or your favorite veteran’s return to the field.

This news was encouraging.  While it didn’t imply that I’d be able to get just my team’s games during the regular season, it did seem to imply that I would at least be able to watch games on my media center PC and not have to resubscribe to my DirecTV service, which I dropped a couple of months ago.

Then I received a second email.  For $99.99 (regularly $129.97) you get the aforementioned pre-season game package and, get ready for it, audio only of regular season games and you can watch video replays of all games, which will be available AFTER the game happens.  Details are here.

Watch over 50 preseason games* in HD with enhanced viewing options. Listen to every NFL team’s official live radio broadcast, wherever you are. Replay every NFL Regular Season game and customize it to your specification – in HD and commercial-free. Enjoy unlimited access to Preseason Live, Audio Pass, and Game Rewind when you buy Game Access.

Well, great.  It’s a step forward, but still far behind the other major sports.  I would guess, at this point, that this is it for the 2010 season.  It’s really not any substitute for their exclusive and pricey DirecTV deal.  And that deal also still requires you to pony up $300.00 for every game – still no team packages for a lesser price.

Basically the NFL still has not learned how to deal with the modern world of online content.  They still don’t realize how much money they are leaving on the table.  How many people could they add to their subscriber list if they added online regular season games?  If they added a team package to their DirecTV Sunday Ticket?  Even the Olympics, that bastion of stodgy, sue-first technophobes, have allowed online broadcast of their events for the past 2 or 3 Olympics.  Maybe 2011 NFL?

Will the NFL Join the Media Revolution?

The NFL is the last major US sport holding out.  MLB, NHL, and NBA all have deals in place to bring you whatever game you want, live, on your PC.

But, if you’re a football fan, and want to see the game of an out-of-market team, then you have one option.  Get DirecTV and then, on top of that, shell out $300 for NFL Sunday Ticket.  What if you don’t care about the other 14 games going on?  Too bad.  Pay for them anyway.  Want a package to just watch your team?  You can’t have one.  Want to buy a particular game and, heaven forbid, watch it on your PC?  No way!

Oh, unless you live outside the USA (Game Pass).  That’s the one caveat the NFL has allowed.  You can watch a game, online, pay-per-view style, if you have an IP address that exists outside the borders of this country.  Yes, you can watch it via….ahm….let’s say….non-sanctioned streaming services.  I won’t list them, but they aren’t hard to find.  Or, if you do live in this country, they will sell you a radio (IE audio only) broadcast of your team that will stream live.

Will they change this coming season?

That’s what I have been trying to look into.  And, the short answer is, there is nothing being said at this time.  I emailed the NFL and got no response.  I checked with a couple of fellow fans/bloggers/online TV users and they have heard nothing.  The season is still a couple of months away from beginning and a lot can change, but at this point it doesn’t look promising.

Right now they seem to be steadfastly stuck in the 1990’s.  While the other major US sports pass them by, the NFL continues to leave revenue on the table.  Do these corporations never learn?  Will they continue to push their old, broken business models all the way into irrelevancy?  Does the NFL really think they are immune to this?  They may be sadly mistaken.  Not that I think the NFL will fade away, but they need to get their online act together before it starts biting them in the wallet.