If someone owned the rights to the word “plus,” they would be currently very rich, plus.
The NFL reportedly is considering a paid streaming service, according to Daniel Kaplan of TheAthletic.com.
On Sunday, the possibility of “NFL+” was presented to teams at the league meetings. It would include, per Kaplan, “games, radio, podcasts and team content.”
The development comes at a time when the NFL is selling mobile rights (which are currently available), the Sunday Ticket package (which expires after 2022), and a piece of NFL Media, the in-house multi-platform conglomerate that the league has owned and operated from inception. The league has yet to find a serious taker for NFL Media equity. Some believe it ultimately will be tied to the Sunday Ticket rights.
Nine years ago, the NFL launched “NFL Now,” a free digital platform that never caught on, at least not the way the NFL envisioned. Per Kaplan, the Sunday presentation suggested a monthly price or NFL+ of $5. The question becomes what will the customer really get for whatever the price ultimately is?
The drawing card will always be live games, something NFL Network has largely lost via the Amazon cash grab for Thursday Night Football. (NFL Network will have only five of 272 regular-season games in 2021.) If NFL+ incorporates the mobile rights previously sold to the likes of Verizon and Yahoo — and made available to consumers for free — that could be a drawing card.
An in-house streaming service also could be a great vehicle for Sunday Ticket, if the NFL ever decides to not sell the rights and instead markets the product directly to consumers. The league has at least pondered that possibility in the past. However, outside companies usually will pay more for the rights than the NFL would make if it cut out the middleman.
Without live regular-season games, would there be enough content to justify the product? So much coverage of the NFL is already available everywhere, without the baked-in bias of a platform owned and operated by the league. That said, it could be a viable new destination for NFL Rewind, a previously excellent on-demand service for watching past games that has become a little balky and clunky to use after changes (definitely not upgrades) were made in 2021. NBC Sports