NFL Joining Streaming Wave, Launching NFL+

by Patrick Norton

The NFL is joining the 21st century with plans to launch a new streaming service for the league. While details on the site require some hashing out, bringing more options to absorb football is never a bad thing.

For the NFL’s chief media and business officer, Brian Rolapp, NFL+ represents an opportunity for exponential growth.

Posting on Sports Illustrated the league’s mission to “reach as many fans as possible”, Rolapp highlights the upcoming launch as a major starting point. While a release date remains unavailable, a streaming platform propels the league into the conversation with baseball, football and hockey. While NFL viewership crushes the three leagues, the league’s unwillingness to dive into the handheld media world felt archaic.

Dependent on location and cable package, only local games and one or two nationally televised games graced our screens before switching over to NBC’s Sunday Night Football. Without purchasing an extended package through DirecTV, or subscribing to a third-party site, out-of-market games essentially didn’t exist.

NFL+ plans to break that mold. Providing access to every game on Sunday, the service also possesses the opportunity to listen to local radio broadcasts, pulling from MLB.TV. In addition to certain gameday features, the application would likely feature on-demand segments from NFL Network and access to the NFL Films archive.

How Does NFL+ Impact Sunday Ticket

The new streaming service has a catch. As of right now, the plan benefits mobile device users only. Without an application for televisions, Rolapp’s column does not discuss ability to screen-mirror, AirPlay or cast to larger screens. That alone keeps the relevancy of Sunday Ticket in the forefront. However, the league is yet to create a deal with a carrier for the upcoming season.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell believes the add-on is likely heading to a streaming service. Apple TV remains the reported favorite to land the deal. However, with six weeks until Week 1, the current uncertainty is a bit puzzling.

Assuming NFL+ remains restricted to mobile users upon its eventual launch, Sunday Ticket still possesses an opportunity to dominate the sports bar market.