The NFL and NBC’s decision to start streaming their Sunday Night Football games signals an inevitable future: 100% free Internet access of all pro matchups.
The league and network confirmed Monday that the “Sunday Night Football Extra” project begins Sept. 4 (a Thursday) on NFL.com and NBCSports.com. The season-long freebie — supported by ads — is billed as a test.
These games already are broadcast coast-to-coast, of course, so there’s no real downside. (The games won’t be streamed outside of the U.S.) Quite a few viewers will run the stream along with their TV viewing, in order to access some of the interactive video listed below.
NBC’s total reach will expand a tad, with more out-of-home viewers catching the games. Wonder how the action will play on an iPhone at Applebee’s.
The nose of the pigskin is in the tent, no doubt about it:
The eventual prize for hardcore football fans will be live streams of all games — from wherever they’re played. Talk about your killer app.
The current all-access offering — DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket — scalps fans with a minimum charge of $270 per season. (For the high-def crowd that’s before “SuperFan” surcharges of $100, on top of existing HD fees.)
Sunday ticket remains a wonderful thing for those who a) have the gear and b) can afford it, but the concept clearly predates the Internet video phenomenon. Once an economic model is established for ad-supported streaming video — and that will take years, of course — the exclusionary Sunday Ticket will be shredded.
(DirecTV and the NFL currently sell PC and Mac access to all games worldwide.)
The Sunday Night Football Extra package will include:
- Multiple extra camera angles selected by viewers, including cable cam and “star cam.”
- “Picture-in-picture technology,” meaning fans can view several cameras at once.
- Highlights on demand.
- Live stats.
- “In-game studio updates from the “NBC Football Night in America” team and NFL Network talent.
- … and some kind of viewer interactivity.
The regular talent for the broadcast is Al Michaels (play-by-play), John Madden (analyst) and Andrea Kremer (sideline).
Here’s your lean-and-mean canned quote, from NBC Sports’ Dick Ebersol:
“In the first two seasons of ‘NBC Sunday Night Football,’ we created a new destination to reach viewers and changed traditional primetime football viewing habits.
Now, together with the NFL, we are adding the live streaming element where users can interact with the broadcast to enhance their experience.”