The NFL in mid-March reached new TV deals which will keep the league in business with all of its current broadcast partners, including Fox, CBS, Disney/ABC/ESPN, and Comcast/NBC. The deals, which run through 2033, will include a digital component, with CBS’ games streaming on Paramount+, and some streaming content appeared on ESPN+, and Fox-owned Tubi. NBC’s Peacock can also simulcast NBC’s Sunday Night Football games under the deal.
There’s another big change: Amazon Prime Video, beginning in 2023, will be the exclusive streaming home of Thursday Night Football, the first time the NFL has granted such rights to a tech company.
“These new media deals will provide our fans even greater access to the games they love. We’re proud to grow our partnerships with the most innovative media companies in the market,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement at the time of the new deals. “Along with our recently completed labor agreement with the NFLPA, these distribution agreements bring an unprecedented era of stability to the League and will permit us to continue to grow and improve our game.”
Earlier this week, another deal was announced: The Hulu+ Live TV vMVPD has reached a deal to add both NFL Network and NFL RedZone. NFL Network, while it does not carry exclusive games, offers extensive football-related content, while RedZone is the popular channel that allows real-time highlights during NFL games. Both will arrive on the Hulu + Live TV platform in August, in time for the 2021 NFL season.
These changes have convinced at least one analyst that a new wave of cord-cutting, in favor of vMVPDs, will take place. The reason? Rising programming costs, driven by the reported $107 billion price tag on the NFL deals, will cause the cost of traditional cable to rise.
Deana Myers, research director at Kagan, recently made that case at the Stream TV Sports Summit, per FierceVideo.
“These costs will, in turn, be funneled to [pay TV] customers and, as we have seen, costs can be a problem. Many consumers have cut the cord over pricing and that is likely to continue if the price of TV packages rise further,” Myers said. This, the analyst claimed, will cause consumers to either seek lower-cost alternatives, such as vMVPDs, or possibly just watch the games that are on streaming services. A fan who doesn’t have cable could watch the Sunday CBS games on Paramount+, the Sunday night games on Peacock, and the Thursday night games on Amazon. Also, the Sunday Ticket package, which is currently exclusive to DirecTV, is expected to get a new home after the 2022 season.
The lack of availability of live sports on streaming services has long been something that keeps people from cutting the cord. But the new NFL deals are an indication that things are beginning to change in that regard.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.