The National Football League is expected to launch its own mobile-focused streaming service, NFL+, as early as July, according to a report from the NFL owner meeting in Atlanta by Sports Business Journal (SBJ). The platform will reportedly cost around $5 per month and will feature live in-market games on mobile phones and tablets as well as other possible content, including radio, podcasts and a variety of other team-created content. This is directed at fans who desire a mobile streaming option as a complement to the big screen.
Previously, these games were distributed to laptops and tablets for free via Yahoo Sports and various cell phone carriers, but those deals have all since expired, allowing the league to pursue its own streaming option.
The NFL declined to comment to TechCrunch on the news.
NFL+ comes into the spotlight (or floodlights) as people continue to question if the NFL will include an equity stake in NFL Media or NFL Films in the Sunday Ticket out-of-market games package. Amazon and Apple are the front-runners for the NFL Media stake and Sunday Ticket. Sunday Ticket has been with DirecTV for many years, and once this expires, the deal will cost over $1.5. billion, according to reports, and will be in the $2.5 billion range.
Some even believe that a Sunday Ticket deal with Apple has already been decided, but this remains unconfirmed. If Apple TV+ were to own rights to the NFL Network, NFL.com, NFL RedZone and now potentially NFL+, this would be a major boon for the platform. NFL+ will only stream local games not Sunday Ticket, so having both would be a huge win for Apple.
NFL+ aims to function independently as a part of NFL Media, which sources say will give the NFL new data on its users. However, on the other hand, there are other reports that the streaming product could be folded into a larger streaming package, wrote SBJ's Ben Fischer.
Additionally, The Athletic reported last month that the NFL might be looking for a partner that could distribute NFL Media or NFL Films content. While it is unlikely that Netflix will ever cover live sports, we do think that it would be in its best interest, especially since the company is planning to launch a livestreaming option for the service.
Despite the saturated streaming landscape, nothing excites viewers quite like the NFL, and it sounds like the league is looking to further capitalize on America's obsession.
NFL+ is the latest announcement of a profitable year for sports entertainment, and the new streaming product could imply the convergence of sports media at large. Major League Baseball is also hoping to launch its own streaming service in 2023, and FIFA has become a streaming rival as of last month with the launch of FIFA+.
It will be interesting to see if other leagues will adopt streaming as a result and if viewers will be quick to subscribe to yet another service. In addition to broadcast deals with FOX, NBC, CBS and Amazon, the NFL also has the NFL Network that is included in many cable, satellite and streaming service packages. So, we will have to see if fans are willing to pay an extra $5 for content they can already find elsewhere.