Saturday, July 26, 2008

Watch Games Live on the Internet?
This is a Start

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the National Football League and the National Broadcast Corporation have reached an agreement to offer NFL games online. Reportedly, the agreement would encompass the Sunday night telecasts already available on your local NBC affiliate, but we can only hope that this is the start of a shift in how the NFL makes its games available.

The Directv monopoly in the United States of the "NFL Sunday Ticket" package is an onerous thing (though Directv's desire for such an arrangement is completely understandable), seemingly short-sighted (imagine how much more money the league could make by making the package more widely available through other satellite and cable providers), and flies in the face of how the package is delivered in Canada (on cable and satellite). Additionally, NFL games are already streamed live, online outside of North America.

All of this makes us wonder if there aren't some in the NFL hierarchy who are more concerned with creating new fans of the league than in taking good care of all the fans. The Directv package is up for renewal in 2010, and we can imagine a scenario in which television and "new media" revenues become part of what are certain to be contentious negotiations with the NFL Player's Union. Whether or not the owners will agree to share those revenues with players remains to be seen, however ensuring that the maximum return is achieved for its product is always good business. The guess here is that increasing access to NFL telecasts to the maximum number of willing subscribers is one decision in which all interested parties ~ owners, players, and fans ~ would benefit.

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