This upcoming 2016-2017 NFL season, fans will once again be able to watch the league on the same networks the NFL has been partnered with for a while: NBC, CBS, FOX, ESPN, and DirecTV. However, Arizona Cardinals president Michael Bidwill thinks that could change soon.
Bidwill didn’t insinuate another network would jump into the fold. Instead, he thinks an online distributor could become the next major media partner with the NFL.
“There’s no doubt it’s coming,” Bidwill said speaking with PFT Live. “The question is how we transition into it. What we need to do is do a great job of listening to our fans about how they want to consume NFL content. Our fans are switching to digital, they’re switching to handheld and mobile devices, and we want to respond to that.”
Now who could that major online distributor be? Bidwill believes Amazon, Netflix or YouTube will soon outbid an NBC, CBS, or FOX for the rights to NFL games and will begin streaming them online.
Arizona has already got the ball rolling with Amazon Prime. The team will debut a documentary series All of Nothing on July 1st on the streaming service.
“This was a great way for us to tell our story across the country,” Bidwill said. “We want to expand our footprint, expand our fan base.”
Broadcasting NFL games online through Netflix, YouTube, Amazon or maybe even a social network like Facebook or Twitter, could help the league expand its reach across the globe. For a league with so many rumors about wanting to move a team to England, making games more available around the world would be a smart move.
The NFL has also already tested this method with Yahoo!. Back in October, 15 million people tuned into the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars game on Yahoo’s first-ever live stream of an NFL game. The numbers themselves were pretty staggering: 15.2 million unique viewers, 33.6 million video streams, and over 460 million total minutes of video consumed, according to Yahoo.
Brian Rolapp, the NFL’s EVP of media, told reporters the response was great.
“The feedback we’ve gotten from advertisers has been across-the-board positive. They are premium brands looking for a high-quality experience, and that’s what they got,” Rolapp said.
While Yahoo! was not a streaming service Bidwill mentioned, the NFL’s history of success with the website and streaming online is a good sign for a Netflix, Amazon or YouTube who may want to bid on rights to stream future games.
If this all works out for the NFL and for example Netflix wins the rights, fans will be able to go right from watching an NFL game to binge-watching a new TV series.