from hike! department

I’ve spilled a lot of words on these pages talking about the outsized importance that live sports have on the adoption of streaming as a primary entertainment platform over traditional cable. Although the cord cutting is a very important thing, the vine that the land cable clings to to keep it from falling over the cliff is still the live sport. Major American sports leagues have typically woven a complex web of broadcast rights, whether with local broadcast stations, cable channels, or even some teams that own their own channels. This complicated web is what keeps the blackout rules for MLB.TV in place, as well as what keeps the implementation of real streaming of everything impossible.

Yet, even with some issues that exist, MLB.TV remains the gold standard for sports streaming. Especially compared to what the NFL is doing. Here, not only the legacy broadcast rights get in the way, but also the fragmented broadcast rights the league is working on. Thursday night football will stream exclusively on Amazon Prime. The implosion of the AT&T and DirecTV merger put NFL Sunday Ticket in play for all sorts of tech giants. And now the NFL has launched a new streaming service to replace NFL Game Passcalled NFL+. The good news is that the new service is cheaper than the old one. The bad news is that it’s still such a limited and convoluted mess due to legacy rights deals that it’s making headlines like this one from Ars Technica: NFL+ is here, but it’s probably not what you’re looking for.

NFL+ replaces NFL Game Pass, which offered more utility but cost $99.99 per year. NFL+ costs $4.99 per month or $39.99 per year. TechCrunch reports that NFL Game Pass subscribers will automatically be moved to NFL+. The new service “provides access to live out-of-market preseason games, local regular and postseason games and live prime time (phone and tablet only), local audio and national live streams for every game, on-demand NFL Network broadcasts, NFL movies archives and more,” according to the NFL press release.

That “phone and tablet only” bit is the problem here. So you can stream games, but not directly to your smart TV. Instead, you have to watch games on your phone or tablet…unless you take the extra step of streaming them to your smart TV. If you can, what’s the point of the TV blackout? Why is streaming game on Android phone/tablet cool, but streaming on Android TV is mean?

Well, because the NFL wants to sell you something completely different to do that.

The “phone and tablet only” rating for local and primetime regular and postseason games is the big limitation here. That means it’s not a replacement for regular shows if you want to watch on your TV. To watch these games on your game console, smart TV or streaming box, you’ll need something totally different: an NFL Sunday Ticket subscription.

This is a great time to remind everyone that monetary concerns aren’t the only aspect of a transaction cost when it comes to someone’s willingness to buy something. There is also a mental transaction that occurs that essentially resolves to the ease and convenience of making the purchase. The NFL certainly seems to make the mental transaction as expensive as possible, even if it lowers the monetary cost of that transaction.

Whether I can stream an individual NFL game will depend on what I subscribe to, what device I want to watch it on, live or on demand, what game it is so I know if I do I have the streaming service for this, where do I want to watch it from, what are the individual blackout rules for this game, and so on.

Or the audience can go find an illicit streaming service that incurs none of the costs, monetary or mental. If streaming adoption is what the NFL wants, this seems like a horrible way to go about it.

Filed Under: Live Sports, Restrictions, Sports, Streaming

Companies: nfl