For Online Streaming Sports Success, Keep an Eye On the NFL

For a good portion of the TV viewing world, sports are a barrier to cord cutting. And I don’t blame them. All the major sports are just now dipping their toes into the market. Let’s take a look at what’s out there and what’s holding back folks from cord cutting.

Options Today

A number of sports franchises have dipped their toes into the online viewing world.

  • MLB.tv: subscribe monthly or for the season to see live or on demand baseball in HD
  • NBA League Pass: subscribe for the season to see live (but not blacked out) or on demand basketball games. Reviews of the quality aren’t all positive, so be careful.
  • NHL Game Center: subscribe monthly to see up to 40 live games a week.
  • WWE Network: subscribe monthly to see the latest slams and bams
  • International Curling Network: Ok, I made that one up. But you were interested…

And the list goes on.

The Elephant In The Room: The NFL

Despite a lot of players in the cord cutting field, something is missing from the live sports lineup. That would be the single most popular TV sport in the US: football. I find it difficult to wrap my brain around how staggeringly popular NFL football is in the US. Like, blowing everyone else away popular. The average football game has as many viewers as the NBA finals games.

Graph from The Atlantic showing LOTS of NFL viewers. Crazy lots.

And, the NFL knows it and drives hugely expensive long term contracts. The present nine year deal rakes in about $7 billion (with a B) a year and expires in 2022. If ever there was a golden goose, this would be it, and the NFL seems very hesitant to endanger their very large contracts.

Watch The NFL

Football ties viewers to their expensive ESPN cable subscriptions which drive a lot of revenue. Being an incumbent and having little financial incentive to innovate, I expect the NFL to lag the other, more nimble, sports into the streaming video age. They are experimenting with their Direct TV deal, but it’s dabbling more than a serious investment. When we see the NFL move, however, that’s the sign of the apocalypse for the cable TV industry

But I Wanna Watch Football Now

But take heart, dear football fan, because there are options available to you. A goodly number of shows are broadcast over the air on FOX, NBC, and CBS. A solid over-the-air DVR setup and a local sports bar will bridge you through the rough times ahead.

Looking to get your sports fix. A few other hearty cord cutters have taken their swag at a solution: