A couple of years ago, cable television was fighting for broadcasting rights for NFL games. Football has been predominantly restricted to the TV between ESPN, CBS, Fox Sports, and NBC (among others). However, during the surge of online streaming, that has drastically changed. The top streaming services have taken over NFL games, with even some games being exclusive to just one provider.
Now, to watch the games, see your favorite teams, or even make NFL picks, you may need to subscribe to a monthly fee from multiple providers. This may seem like an inconvenience, however, there is a method to the madness. Top streaming websites are taking over the NFL, and there is much reason for the change.
Contents in the Article
Where Has the NFL Gone?
There are 10 main culprits in the mystery of NFL’s disappearance to cable television. Each of them has its own broadcasting deal, meaning that your flexibility in watching football can vary. If you wanted to watch every NFL game broadcasted in a week, you would need a minimum of two different services to do so. However, on the opposite end, if your resources are limited, you may need 4 different sites to watch the games.
The streaming services providing the National Football League are:
- HULU+ Live TV
- YouTube TV
- Amazon Prime Video
- DirecTV Stream
- Sling TV
To begin, the only website that provides Thursday Night Football is Amazon Prime Video. This makes Prime Video almost a necessity for die hard NFL fans and writers, as many important games are played during this time. For the fans, many revolve their schedules around Thursday Night Football, so buying into that subscription isn’t too much of an ask. Football journalists need these games to make the best NFL predictions they can, so Amazon Prime Video is now on the market for football fans of the world.
Peacock sits with Prime as being the only two providers that have just one game on their schedule. ESPN+ and Paramount+ only stream two game times each, while Vidgo carries 3. The providers that carry 4 game times each have the most variety of them all, with Sling TV, FuboTV, DirecTV Stream, Hulu+ Live TV, and YouTube TV holding the crown. However, one who sits above the throne is the league’s very own streaming service, NFL+.
Why It Happened
The reason that your favorite NFL expert picks are coming from streaming services has actually happened at a slower rate than one would think. With most of the media having shifted to streaming already, the market was there. Cable television is littered with reruns and classics, while new releases are sometimes restricted to the platform. With this, viewers from all demographics ended up on the websites in advance.
One contributing factor to the delayed move to streaming was the broadcasting deals of old. The NFL has stricken many deals worth dozens of millions of dollars, some even surpassing the $1 billion mark. In 2011, the NFL reinstated their broadcasting rights with ESPN for the next 10 years. This included the streaming of 18 games and the Pro Bowl. The NFL Network had most other games, while NBC and CBS had a smaller share. Once that deal ended, and the simulcast was introduced, football immediately shifted to streaming to accommodate other devices.
This brings me to my last point; Technological boundaries. Streaming live football from different services was easy when shown through cable television, but smaller devices without cable had trouble keeping up. Once the simulcast was introduced, this changed drastically, as internet providers were given the opportunity to stream games.
The money the NFL earned from broadcasting this year is 10x that of their last deal in 2011. Going from $1 billion per year to a deal worth $110 billion over 11 seasons has proven that not only has streaming made the NFL more accessible to internet users but proves more financially rewarding for the league itself.