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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on live streaming of sporting events: “We want to be where the fans are”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on live streaming of sporting events: “We want to be where the fans are”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on live streaming of sporting events: “We want to be where the fans are”

Erik Gruenwedel

The National Football League is fully committed to live streaming of sporting events. In the upcoming 2024-2025 season, a total of five games will be broadcast exclusively on streaming subscription platforms. This is a record.

Speaking of CNBC On July 11, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said at the Allen & Co. Sun Valley Conference in Idaho that the league’s recently signed exclusive streaming deals with Netflix for two Christmas Day games, NBCUniversal Peacock’s season-opening game in São Paulo, Brazil, and Prime Video’s postseason wild-card game will help increase the league’s presence on media platforms used by more viewers and raise international awareness of the game.

Prime Video also owns exclusive rights to NFL Thursday Night Football.

“I think we go where the fans are,” Goodell said. “They see the changes. We want to be where the fans are. Netflix has almost 300 million subscribers worldwide, which was really attractive to us because we could reach that global audience.”

Goodell said the NFL’s international expansion remains a “big” initiative for the league. He said Netflix wants to make the Christmas games an event, similar to what the NFL does around its Thanksgiving Day games.

The three games played last Christmas were among the 25 most watched games of the season, according to Goodell.

“Netflix is ​​going to globalize it and give it a Netflix twist. And I think it’s going to be great for the fans,” he said.

When asked if the international expansion would mean more games than the 17 games currently on the schedule and more games for Netflix, Goodell said, “Maybe all of that.”

“Our goal is to globalize our game. We believe that with five international games this year, the game will become incredibly popular around the world. You just have to get more games there.”

When asked if the partnership with Netflix and other streamers would ultimately make watching the NFL too expensive, Goodell reiterated that 85% of NFL games are free to watch on television. The league is the only professional sports league that offers local team games for free.

The NFL was recently hit with a $4.7 billion court judgment for colluding with DirecTV, CBS and Fox to overcharge consumers for DirecTV’s long-running Sunday Ticket football package. Sunday Ticket is now available exclusively on YouTube TV.

Goodell said the league “obviously” disagreed with the jury’s verdict and was determined to pursue legal action pending appeal.

“It’s a long process. But we are very aware of our position. And our policy, especially with regard to the media, that we make our sport accessible to the widest possible audience,” said Goodell.

In fact, the Commissioner claims that Sunday Ticket is a free TV product that consumers do not have to pay anything for to access the NFL.

“We are committed to pursuing the litigation to the end and making sure we do everything right,” he said.

When asked about the impending merger of Paramount Global and Skydance Media, its impact on CBS Sports, a longtime broadcaster of NFL games (since 1956), and the possibility that the NFL might renegotiate its distribution deal with the network, Goodell said CBS has been an exceptional media partner, including achieving record ratings at the last Super Bowl.

CBS also broadcasts most NFL games live on Paramount+.

“They have been a great partner and we will of course follow the process closely,” he said, adding that the league will look at the merger and its impact on the CBS rights structure.

“We’re going to make the best decision for the NFL at this time,” Goodell said, adding that it’s not about the money but about reaching as many fans as possible.

“Our fans see that and that has not only helped the league become more popular, but also helped us get great ratings.”

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