Fans Can Now Watch NFL Games Online No Subscription Needed
NFL now allows live game streaming on phones and tablets via the NFL app and at NFL.com.
Are you ready for some football? The National Football League hopes so. In an attempt to entice viewers to make time for their favorite teams online, the NFL is embracing subscription-free streaming of NFL games, so fans can watch football on the go. Last week NFL Digital Media announced the live streaming of football games would be “more broadly available,” allowing fans to watch live local and most primetime NFL games on their phones and tables through the NFL app, at NFL.com, on Yahoo Sports and other Verizon-owned mobile properties, the NFL said in an announcement.
This relaxation of a past rule requiring a cable subscription to access live streaming games does not apply to all NFL games, however. NFL Network exclusive games will require fans to log into their TV provider on NFL.com, through the NFL app or on their TV or cable provider’s digital platform. NFL RedZone and NFL Network will be available on mobile devices with authentication on the NFL app and at NFL.com. Free, live-streaming will not be available on smart TVs either.
“We think people will still want to watch on the biggest screen possible,” said Brian Rolapp, chief business and media officer for the NFL, on ABC News.
Why is the NFL doing this? Rolapp told ABC News that the NFL wants to be able to reach cord cutters and cord nevers, which means being flexible in providing other ways to watch.
“If you don’t get to that younger demographic, who aren’t conditioned to go to the television, you do run the risk of losing them,” Rolapp said.
Along with the greater availability of free, live-streamed NFL games, NFL Digital Media has updated the NFL app to include a new Game Center with scoring information, game highlights, statistics and animated drive charts.
“From the redesigned NFL app to new live shows, our digital team is driven to develop products, platforms and content franchises that keep a highly engaged NFL fan base connected to the game, teams and players they love,” said David Jurenka, NFL Senior Vice President of Digital Media, in a September 7 news release. “We're excited to unveil more content across our digital and social channels that bring fans even closer to all the moments that make every NFL season special.”
NFL is also expanding its presence on social media to engage different audiences. For example, the NFL will expand The Checkdown, a live show that streams every Thursday and Sunday on Twitter from 7:45 to 8:15 p.m. Eastern. The NFL hopes this programming will push viewers to watch Thursday Night Football and Sunday Night Football after each edition of The Checkdown.
“Twitter is a natural platform for us to build excitement around the NFL and leverage the live conversations fans are already having on game days,” said Mark Pesavento, NFL Media Vice President of Digital Content. "As a social brand, The Checkdown show offers our audience a connection into the primetime games from a voice that resonates with them.”
The NFL is also producing multi-platform content, including NFL Throwback, NFL Life, NFL in :60, podcasts, Around the NFL, Move the Sticks, The Dave Dameshek Football Program, NFL Fantasy Live and Game Theory & Money.
These options aren’t the only game in town though. NFL fans who are also Amazon Prime members can watch most Thursday Night Football games on Prime or for free through the Twitch app. Prime members will find they can stream these games on their smart TVs for that big screen experience.
This is a smart play on the part of the NFL, though it probably should have considered this move a few years ago. With the growth of cord cutters and cord nevers, there is an entire generation of TV viewers who only watch OTT programming. This is a way for the NFL to reach them on mobile devices, while also trying to connect with them on social media. This experiment may take a while to take off – and more tweaks may be needed before they see success – but this is something the NFL needed to do to grow its online presence.