The NFL is officially tossing its hat into the streaming ring, with a subscription service dubbed NFL+. Its launch date is expected sometime in July, Sports Business Journal (SBJ) reports.
NFL+ will reportedly feature live games that can be streamed via mobile and tablet devices. The service is expected to cost about $5 per month, though SBJ said the pricing structure may change and likely include other components such as podcasts, radio and miscellaneous team-created content.
Discussion around a possible NFL streaming service arose back in March, when the Athletic reported that league teams were briefed about the development at the annual NFL owners’ meetings. The publication’s sources said the idea would be revisited at an NFL meeting in May.
The NFL+ announcement comes at a critical time with Apple and Amazon both vying for the NFL Sunday Ticket, as its deal with DirecTV is set to expire in 2023. Amazon last year secured exclusive streaming rights for Thursday Night Football – a contract that’s set for 11 years.
SBJ wrote the app’s games will be limited to what viewers could otherwise see in their local TV markets, which suggests NFL+ subscribers won’t have access to Monday, Thursday and Sunday Night football games that don’t include local teams.
The publication went on to say that up until this year, these games were distributed to tablets and laptops via Yahoo and on mobile phones through major carriers. Verizon, for instance, had a $2.5 billion five-year streaming deal with the NFL that recently expired, according to Seeking Alpha.
NFL will keep the rights in-house for NFL+, which may be a challenge, Seeking Alpha wrote, because many of the games the app will feature are still available for free on local broadcast.
Though the $5 price tag may seem compelling to sports viewers. NFL’s Game Pass, in comparison, costs $99 per season, but it offers both live and on-demand viewing.
While football streaming is heating up, Major League Baseball is also making progress in the space. Apple TV+ is now the exclusive home of MLB Friday Night Baseball, and YouTube recently renewed a streaming deal with MLB for 15 games during the 2022 regular season.