Online NFL Pay-Per-View Games Coming Soon!

Lee JohnsonSenior Analyst IJuly 31, 2008

Something has finally clicked with the NFL in the past few years. They seem to have dusted off that old memo telling them that Al Gore had discovered this great thing called the Internet.

In another light-bulb moment, the NFL has discovered that they can make some advertising cash, and make some people happy, by streaming games live online.

Last year, the NFL spiced up their own little personal web page they call  They decided to get off the couch and tell the rest of the media world that they will now be taking over the task of giving NFL fans video content online, limiting what media outlets can use

Up to 45 seconds per day of audio and/or video of interviews or press conferences with NFL employees (including, but not limited to, players and coaches) or of team practice footage may be used on the Internet by credentialed news organizations. The content may not be used live and may be archived for 24 hours. This applies to both weekdays and gamedays.

Up to 90 seconds of this online footage may be used by news organizations that cover multiple clubs, such as Jets and Giants in New York, Redskins and Ravens in Washington and Baltimore, and 49ers and Raiders in San Francisco/Oakland, provided no more than 45 seconds is used for a single club.

Meanwhile, the master plan of giving a makeover is in the works, including a pretty attractive corner of the room to NFL Network content.

Several videos are available to you, the fan, at the click of the mouse and without the awkward phone conversation with your local cable operator over them getting the NFL Network that is going to result with you lying on the floor in the fetal position with ESPN's NFL Live on in the background. 

Featured video, NFL Network content, fantasy football, team specific, and game’s all there with a “Your video will begin in 15 seconds” message and advertising to kick it off.  Hey, these kids may be on to something!

Starting on Sept. 4, the NFL is jumping into the live streaming of NFL games. Yes, the Redskins and Giants are coming to a computer monitor near you. After the Thursday opener, the Sunday Night games will be a regular feed that you can catch streamed.

“We are taking a big leap here,” said Steve Bornstein, chief executive of the NFL Network.

“We are looking at this as a learning opportunity to see what applications work online. We are trying to be innovative and creative to make the viewing experience better for our fans.”

Last season, we got a little taste of it with streams online of the NFL-Network-only games. They were not showing the whole games, they would show a few minutes and then cut to the commentators...back and forth.

It was still better than no game at all for those that are at the mercy of the local cable company and do not have access to the station. For myself, it was kinda cool to hide away from the wife and kids with the laptop and watch chunks of the Packers and Cowboys game. Apparently this was a little test run.

Why would you watch this rather than the regular old-fashioned TV way? Maybe because they are going to give you some cool, online features like interactive elements, blogging, and stats that you don’t get on TV. Maybe because your mother in-law’s neighbor has unprotected wireless when you are forced over for that Sunday dinner. You have a “project” for work that is due Monday morning, right?

You are going to be able to catch the Sunday Night games on feeds provided by both the NFL and NBC, the “owners” of the franchise. Sure, this is going to ruffle the feathers of the NBC Peacock affiliates that will lose some viewers, but this is about the future, BABY!

“The NFL’s most important constituency has been the television networks, but the world is moving online,” said Bobby Tulsiani, an analyst at market research firm JupiterResearch. “They haven’t wanted people to watch games online because that could mess up their television deals. . . . This is going to get interesting as they move forward.”

So let’s look forward. One thing that is within the realm of possibility is that the NFL could broadcast its NFL-Network-only games online. Sure, it would take away some of the ability to force fans to ditch their cable companies and go Dish, but they would still have the eyes on them for advertising and be pleasing the fans at the same time.

We know the NFL can do whatever the hell they want with these games, so let’s have a look at the Pay-Per-View potential. There are eight games here that they could be cashing in on this season.

Not only do they have the advertising dollar from the traditional broadcast, they can cash in on the online advertising as well (”Your Broadcast will start in two and two...” says Chuck Woolery). They would be providing an outlet to those fans they care so much about and are protecting them from the evil cable companies.

Ideally, they could get Fox and CBS on board with this in the future, and they would all work together to provide games on a Pay-Per-View basis. Living in Iowa, I would love to be able to catch a Saints game, if I chose to shell the cash out.

By selling it on a game-per-game basis, they could likely rival what a subscription to NFL Ticket would cost, and people would buy it. Why not just get the NFL Ticket you ask?  In case you have not heard, for one reason or another it’s not available to everyone.

Online Pay-Per-View of NFL games, in one form or another, is coming. Soon, you will not be able to go to without a pop-up with a deep voiced dude telling you, “sunday, SUNday, SUNDAY...Manning vs. Manning, to the death...ONLY ON PAY-PER-VIEW…”