"This is a real game-changing year," NFL Chief Digital Officer Perkins Miller told CNBC. He did apologize for his pun.
"You've seen so much growth in these pure-play native digital apps like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime. ... As we looked at what we could do with our premium content, the preseason games, our games on demand, we said if we could unify that into one package and make it easy for our fans, I think we'd be aligning ourselves with the trajectory of online video consumption for premium content providers."
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This is the latest in a string of announcements the NFL has made about new streaming options. Last week, the NFL announced in-season games will be available live at no cost to all Verizon customers. (In the past only Verizon customers with certain packages had access). Plus, this fall the NFL will for the first time offer a game exclusively on Yahoo, not TV. And it's streaming, again at no charge, two more CBS games than last year, in addition to streaming the Super Bowl and playoffs.
These streaming video options won't replace the experience of watching a game live on a giant TV in a living room, but for a cord cutter willing to make some compromises, they're pretty compelling options. And in a time where sports are considered one of the most valuable pieces of the traditional pay-TV bundle, it's worth watching this area.
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The moves don't directly threaten cable and satellite TV providers, as this content is available on broadcast TV, which people could theoretically access via an antenna, but it's another example of the "chipping away" of the traditional TV model.
"The NFL is definitely trying to hedge against change the best we can," said Miller.
"I use the word carefully because I really think of it more as we're being responsive, because we're trying to come at it from a fan-first point of view.
"We know our fans are watching broadcast TV; we know they're touching their mobile phone and want and expect to get content there. We know there's an emergence of connected TV applications and that we need to be directly accountable to our fans to deliver content there."