Netflix Enters the Game: An Update on NFL Media Rights

Last month, the NFL announced that Netflix will exclusively broadcast two Christmas Day games. The Netflix slate will include the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs against the Pittsburgh Steelers, along with the Houston Texans hosting the Baltimore Ravens, a rematch from last year’s NFL playoffs. According to the New York Post, Netflix is paying a sizable $150 million to stream the two games on its platform.

The financial stakes in NFL broadcasting are reaching unprecedented heights. As reported by Forbes, Amazon has committed a staggering $11 billion to stream every Thursday Night Football Game for 11 years, equating to approximately $58.8 million per game. This is not a one-time investment, Amazon is also spending $120 million to stream a single playoff game in 2024. Last year, NBC Universal’s streaming platform, Peacock, paid $110 million for its playoff game. These figures demonstrate the substantial financial commitments that streaming services are making to secure live sports content for their customers. 

The current landscape of NFL broadcasting is set to undergo significant changes. While traditional television broadcasting networks like CBS, Fox, NBC, and ESPN currently hold the NFL’s media rights until the conclusion of the 2033 season, the rise of streaming services is posing a challenge. The question arises-will the NFL maintain a majority of their games on these traditional networks, or will they opt to distribute these games across various streaming services? This decision will shape the future of NFL broadcasting.

An avid football fan must pay $165 dollars to watch every game streamed outside the regular television broadcasting networks. These games include two Christmas day games on Netflix, every Thursday night game streamed on Prime Video, and a Peacock Subscription. Watching every NFL game would require a $72.99 monthly subscription to YouTube TV and an additional $349 payment for NFL Sunday Ticket. The total to watch every NFL game for the 2024 season is around $800.

This $150 million dollar investment by Netflix shows that Netflix is interested in diversifying its product and believes live sports is the best investment for that strategy. With the rise of streaming platforms, the traditional centralized, accessible content provided by cable networks is changing, forcing these networks to adapt. Fox Corporation is partnering with Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery for an unnamed sports streaming platform, which will include all the channels owned by each network.

This fragmentation of viewing rights through many platforms poses opportunities and challenges. On one hand, it offers more options and potentially better viewing experiences. On the other hand, it complicates the viewing landscape and increases fans’ costs. Traditional networks still hold a significant portion of NFL media rights, indicating that conventional TV will play an important role in sports broadcasting for the foreseeable future. Nonetheless, streaming platforms like Amazon and Netflix have made their presence known regarding live sports and the NFL.

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