The National Football League has launched its own direct-to-consumer streaming subscription service, NFL+.
There are two options for service tiers: the base NFL+, which costs $4.99 per month or $39.99 per year, and NFL+ Premium, offered for $9.99 per month or $79.99 per year.
The launch is a big move for the sports league, as it offers access to NFL games broadly for the first time via streaming. Subscribers get access to live out-of-market preseason games, live local and primetime regular season and postseason games, and live local and national audio for every game, plus shows on-demand, along with NFL Films archives among other content.
One caveat is that live local and primetime regular and postseason games on NFL+ are only available via phones and tablets. NFL+ is available via the NFL App across app stores.
The league is looking to expand to audiences that are no longer reachable on regular TV, including younger viewers and those using different platforms.
In a statement, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell emphasized the focus on reaching fans across different platforms and demographics.
"Today marks an important day in the history of the National Football League with the launch of NFL+," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. "The passionate and dedicated football fans are the lifeblood of the NFL, and being able to reach and interact with them across multiple platforms is incredibly important to us.”
“We look forward to continuing to grow NFL+ and deepening our relationship with fans across all ages and demographics, providing them access to a tremendous amount of NFL content, including the most valuable content in the media industry: live NFL games,” Goodell continued.
The NFL+ streaming service builds on the league’s existing NFL Game Pass offering, which is no longer being offered in the U.S. coinciding with the introduction of the new DTC service. The features found in NFL Game Pass are included in the NFL+ Premium tier.
Along with all of the games and ad-free on demand-content featured in the basic tier, NFL+ Premium also offers ad-free full and condensed game replays across devices, and Coaches Film including All-22.
An NFL DTC streaming service was expected to debut this month, with reports in May saying games on the service may be limited to what viewers could otherwise see in their local TV markets.
The DTC launch comes as consumer viewing is shifting more heavily to streaming (Nielsen reported a streaming hit a record share of TV viewing in June, accounting for 33.7% of total TV time). Going the direct-to-consumer route is something other sports groups have explored or launched, including regional sports networks like NESN and Sinclair’s Bally Sports, which each debuted respective streaming services this summer. Individual leagues are as well, such as professional English soccer club Tottenham Hotspur, which introduced a dedicated streaming service earlier in July – and the Professional Triathletes Organization, which last week unveiled a free registration only service called PTO+.
At the same time, competition for sports media rights has intensified. Disney recently decided to dole out a reported $3 billion for Indian Premiere League cricket broadcast rights, but backed off a steeper price for streaming rights which went to Viacom18. As noted by Bloomberg, the cost for IPL media rights more than doubled from its existing contract.
The NFL’s coveted Sunday Ticket package still awaits an announced winner, as it moves off of DirecTV under a contract that expires in 2023. In mid-July Puck’s Dylan Byers pointed to Apple as the likely winner, citing sources close to negotiations. Amazon was pegged as the other front-runner, with price tag for the football package apparently pushing upward of $2.5 billion – and Google looking to have tossed its hat in the ring with a bid, according to a new NYT report. (Read here for more on what a forming TV sports rights bubble might mean, with insights via TVREV’s David Bloom).
Streamers vying for sports rights has been a trend, with Amazon ready to kick off an 11-year $11 billion deal for the NFL’s Thursday Night Football. Apple too has been betting heavily, securing “Friday Night Baseball” double-headers with the MLB and a new 10-year deal with Major League Soccer that makes the OTT service the exclusive home to all live MLS matches starting in 2023 (worth at least a reported $2.5 billion). YouTube earlier this year renewed a streaming deal for 15 MLB games, while NBCUniversal’s Peacock snagged exclusive rights to air 18 MLB games during a new Sunday morning time slot.