Robert Kraft is one of the most influential owners in the National Football League and when he talks about media-related issues, people tend to sit up and notice. Speaking last month at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, Kraft spoke on a variety of topics including his paper business, the New England Patriots and President Trump. He also talked about the future of the NFL’s media rights including over the top.

Kraft was on a panel that included film director Ron Howard and WPP Group founder Martin Sorrell.

But what made headlines was Kraft’s comments about the future of the NFL’s media rights. Kraft said outright “For (the NFL), future is OTT.”

He said how people watch and consume content is changing. Kraft noted that the NFL is really interested to see how the Thursday Night Football experience on Amazon goes. Earlier this year, the NFL sold streaming rights to ten TNF games to Amazon. Those games will also be aired on CBS, NBC and simulcast on NFL Network.

And he also mentioned that by going through Amazon, the NFL hopes to reach millennials:

“The thing we have to be careful of is millennials. They don’t watch TV, they don’t have TVs or subscribe to cable. So we have to bring that audience in. Partly it’s done through fantasy games and linking to that. Over-the-top is a great opportunity.”

The NFL’s current contract depends heavily on TV through partnerships with CBS, ESPN, Fox and NBC, but in recent years, the league has reached out to online outlets to stream games and to see how big the appetite is to watch games online.

And Kraft who has been a proponent of playing games internationally said the league plans to expand from current locales London and Mexico to Brazil, Canada, China and Germany.

The entire discussion can be seen below, go to 34:40 for the talk about OTT:

But the main takeaway is that the NFL is looking at the future and it’s targeting over the top as a way to reach millennials and those who don’t have pay TV subscriptions. Just how the NFL will implement it is the $1,000,000 question.


About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the three Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.

  • Pack4Life83

    It’s no secret that the NFL has been trying harder and harder to globalize the game. And that’s certainly not a bad thing. America is very much a global nation, the NFL knows that, even if Trump doesn’t.

    • JT

      Give your house keys to a syrian. Or stay on topic.

  • newdog301

    The future is not “over the top”.

    People want to be able to watch their shows or games anywhere, but more often than not you watch stuff on an actual TV.

    If you’re going out and plan to stare at your phone for 3 hours why even go out? No, the more likely thing is that people will check the game for 10 minutes and then go back to their meal, the club, the movies, or whatever they are doing.

    Advertisers are going to realize this. Twitter is only going to be able to offer a limited amount of money because advertisers won’t want to spend much when such a limited portion of the audience watches. For live sporting events, the ad dollars will always be there and that is why they will always be the preferred destination.

    You may see every sports negotiation with a league have both a cable outlet and a streaming outlet, but there is never going to be a day where Amazon is the sole provider of NBA games.

  • sportsfan365

    The time zone difference is very problematical for Europe as most US games are in the absolute dead of night. Perhaps they should be thinking of growing the Asia market instead.

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  • Vox Isapox

    Anyone stuck ina cable/broadcast model is in trouble. It still matters but you have to have a way to deliver your product differently. Netflix killed Blockbuster. If they would have us a forward thinker Blockbuster could have been Netflix (or bought them…or destroyed them by getting in that business earlier.)

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