- CBS expanded its streaming deal with the National Football League to include mobile devices and extended the rights through the 2022 season, the network announced Monday. The network began streaming NFL games to CBS All Access subscribers on connected TVs and computers during the 2016 season.
- Subscribers will be able to watch the entire 2018 NFL season live on CBS's All Access video platform, including on mobile phones and tablets using the CBS App for iOS and Android. Viewers also can see games on TV screens through connected devices like Roku, Apple TV and Chromecast.
- Mobile streaming NFL games was previously reserved for Verizon customers, but in December 2017, Verizon lost its exclusive mobile streaming rights. ESPN and NBC have since gained nonexclusive rights.
CBS' expansion to smartphone platforms will give brands a way to reach a broader audience of football fans who are increasingly watching games on mobile devices as "unlimited" data plans or home Wi-Fi connections speed up and improve the live-streaming experience. This comes as the NFL is trying expand its reach in a fresh strategy amid viewership continuing to decline in recent years.
NFL has similar streaming agreements with companies including 21st Century Fox and Verizon. Fox in January agreed to pay more than $3 billion to air Thursday night NFL games for the next five seasons, while Amazon in April agreed to pay about $65 million a year to stream two more seasons of Thursday games on Prime Video. CBS isn't the first to add mobile viewing to its streaming capabilities. NBCUniversal has a deal to air Sunday night games on mobile through its NBC TV Everywhere app, beginning with the 2018 season. ESPN's Monday Night Football was already available to stream on devices such as tablets, computers, streaming devices and connected TVs, and mobile phones were also added last year.
More broadly, CBS' announcement points to the intense focus on acquiring sports media rights as broadcasters, streaming services and digital platforms like Amazon, Facebook and Twitter all battle for a leading role in one of the few remaining destination viewing experiences where large, loyal audiences tune in, attracting major ad investments along the way.
Ninety-five percent of marketers said in a Brandlive and IBM Cloud Video survey that live streaming will be an important part of their strategies this year. Video is projected to make up as much as 82% of all internet traffic by 2020, a growing share of which will be live video content.