/From the Los Angeles Times/
Sunday night NFL games to stream online
The move, which will begin in September, is an attempt by the football
organization to transition the nation's most popular sport on television
into the digital age by attracting younger viewers.
By Meg James
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
July 26, 2008
The National Football League plans to stream live broadcasts of Sunday
night football games beginning in September -- the first time that
complete NFL games will be widely available on the Internet, according
to people familiar with the situation.
The move is an attempt by the NFL to transition the nation's most
popular sport on television into the digital age by attracting younger
viewers, like college kids in dorm rooms, who now get most of their
entertainment and information from laptops.
Partnering with the NFL will be NBC, which broadcasts the league's games
on Sunday nights. NBC will make its television feed -- including Al
Michaels' play-by-play and John Madden's color commentary -- available
on the websites of both the network and league. NBC will sell the
advertising for the venture and presumably share the revenue with the NFL.
Historically, the NFL has tightly held rights to its games and even to
clips of highlights. It has proceeded slowly into the online world, in
part, to avoid antagonizing networks who collectively pay the league
$3.7 billion a year in rights fees to carry their games.
Those fees are the NFL's largest source of income. But like all media
executives, league officials are trying to figure out how to exploit the
"The NFL's most important constituency has been the television networks,
but the world is moving online," said Bobby Tulsiani, an analyst at the
market research firm JupiterResearch. "They haven't wanted people to
watch games online because that could mess up their television deals.
But by focusing so narrowly on the business as it is now, they could
lose control of their online future."
Football doesn't want that to happen. But while other sports leagues
have pushed aggressively into the digital age, the NFL has only
cautiously experimented. Major League Baseball, for example, has wired
ball parks with digital cameras and offers a subscription service for
fans who want to watch the games of out-of-town teams.
Last season, the NFL began offering streams of games to DirecTV's
subscribers who pay extra to receive additional Sunday games. And the
NFL has offered online subscription packages to viewers overseas.
The online streams will begin Sept. 4 with the season opening match
between the Washington Redskins and the New York Giants.