NFL to enter streaming world with mobile-only NFL+

The National Football League (NFL) will become the latest sports entertainment league to jump into digital streaming, announcing plans to launch an NFL+ subscription streaming service sometime in July, ahead of the 2022 NFL season. Earlier this year, FIFA launched its own streaming service, FIFA+.

The NFL’s new streaming service will be supplemental to its NFL Sunday Ticket service, which allows viewers to watch out-of-market NFL games. NFL Sunday Ticket is currently available through DirectTV, but its contract expires after this upcoming season, and the NFL is seeking a digital streaming partner as the new home of Sunday Ticket. It is largely speculated that Apple is poised to pick up the Sunday Ticket package in a multi-year, multi-billion dollar deal, though Amazon still remains in the bidding.

The NFL+ service will be a mobile-only subscription service and allow subscribers to stream live games on mobile devices but, unlike Sunday Ticket, will limit users to only the games they could watch in their local television market. Previously, NFL games were distributed on mobile through licensing agreements with the major cellular carriers. Those deals have expired, however, and the NFL is looking to capitalize by distributing the content through its new NFL+ streaming app, which is expected to cost $5 per month.

The NFL+ app will not have exclusive mobile streaming rights, with ViacomCBS’s Paramount+, Fox Corporation’s Tubi, Comcast/NBCUniversal’s Peacock, and Disney’s ESPN+ streaming services retaining streaming rights for the games aired on their respective parent network—including on mobile devices.

Interpret VideoWatch® data shows that adding NFL content to its streaming platform is a smart play for Apple. Among NFL fans, only 12% subscribe to Apple TV+, indicating that there is significant room to grow their subscription base among the NFL audience. Apple has recently been dipping its toes into live sports, adding a national Friday Night Baseball game with MLB this season—the platform’s first foray into streaming live sports.

Amazon, meanwhile, has already captured nearly half of NFL fans – 48% currently subscribe to Amazon Prime Video. For Amazon, it would be more about retaining that audience and the advertising revenue from game broadcasts. Amazon does have history with the NFL, currently owning the exclusive rights for Thursday Night Football in an 11-year agreement.

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