- NBCUniversal acquired the rights to stream Sunday Night Football in 2018 from the National Football League, per a report in Deadline. The rights include streaming to mobile devices through its “TV Everywhere” product, marking the first time the broadcaster will be able to stream the content on mobile.
- Streaming pro football to mobile devices became possible with Verizon’s latest non-exclusive deal with the NFL and NBCU announced its ad-supported streams would pass through Verizon’s network and the NFL’s mobile platforms.
- National advertising and local affiliate advertising will be included for the first time in NBC's stream on mobile through its own properties. Since the deal covers games in 2018 it will include the upcoming Super Bowl on Feb. 4.
Even though NBC Sports has been streaming Sunday Night Football on a number of platforms since 2008, this latest deal marks the first time it can stream to all digital platforms, including mobile, Rick Cordella, EVP and general manager of digital media for NBC Sports Group, told Deadline. As such, the development is likely to open up new opportunities around cross-platform advertising in 2018 while providing more clarity into football fans' viewing habits.
More broadly, the news points to the intense focus on acquiring sports media rights currently in play as broadcasters, digital platforms and streaming services all jockey for a leading role in one of the few remaining destination viewing experiences where large audiences can be counted on tuning in, attracting large advertising investments along the way. The North American sports media market is set to grow at a compound annual rate of 3% through 2021 across segments of media rights, gate revenues, sponsorships and merchandise, according to PwC's 2017 Sports Outlook, with media rights expected to grow the fastest. One important sports rights package still to be determined is the NFL Thursday Night Footblock, which is set to expire before the end of the year, per Ad Age.
Even though pro football remains one of the ratings winners on broadcast TV, its viewership has been falling, in part because of the increase in cord-cutters and never-corders. The NFL has been active in testing out streaming options to reach those people who can only be found on digital devices.
In 2015 the NFL tested digital streaming with a one-off game deal with Yahoo, and last year Twitter streamed Thursday Night Football game while Amazon won the rights for this year’s slate of Thursday Night Football games with a $50 million bid plus a reported additional $30 million in advertising and promotion for the NFL thrown in for good measure.