National Football League finally allows complete games to be aired live on the Internet in the US.
Sometime today the National Football League and NBC Sports are expected to announce that starting September 4th with the Thursday night matchup between the Washington Redskins and the New York Giants they will stream Sunday Night Football games online for free at both NFL.com and NBCSports.com.
It previously only offered free game streaming to viewers outside of the US in a bid to gain more international exposure (darn soccer fans). This move is part of a new effort to attract younger viewers who increasingly turn to their PCs and broadband connections to put content at their fingertips.
Steve Bornstein, chief executive of the NFL Network, comments:
We are taking a big leap here.
We are looking at this as a learning opportunity to see what applications work online. We are trying to be innovative and creative to make the viewing experience better for our fans.
Many of our fans watch games on television and they are on the computer at the same time. We think the online streams will be additive and complementary.
Viewers will be able to choose from among at least four live camera angles and review statistics that update during the game, according to the league. The league and the network will share in ad sales.
NBC will sell ads for the venture and share the revenue with the NFL.
“I think the consumer of media is more and more interested in a greater sense of control over their media experience,” said Gary Zenkel, NBC Sports’ executive vice president of strategic partnerships. “Whether that translates to sports viewing or not, no one knows. But this is certainly an opportunity to experiment.”
As an avid football fan myself (Go Raiders!) I think the idea is an excellent one. If viewers have to watch adds just as their traditional TV counterparts do then there should be no reason why all the games can’t be streamed online. With programs like Sopcast already allowing you to do so then it would seems as though the NFL would be interested in making a legal alternative where they can directly control advertising and revenue.
[Note: first preseason game is August 8th at 7:30 pm - Eagles vs Steelers]