As the future of sports broadcasting moves forward, this much is clear: streaming is going to take up an increasingly bigger piece of the pie. But when it comes to the possibility of selling individual games à la carte, it doesn’t appear the NFL is interested.
“We’ve never liked that model,” NFL chief media officer Brian Rolapp told Sports Illustrated‘s Monday Morning Quarterback‘s Albert Breer. “We haven’t heard a ton of that in our fan research that they want that. We think the value of the product is pretty good. Is there an opportunity for less than all games, maybe. We haven’t seriously talked about à la carte games. That’s nowhere really in our future.”
While we aren’t holding our breath, it would be interesting to see the data the league has collected on its fans desires for à la carte games. It’s hard to imagine that fans wouldn’t be in favor of having more options when it comes to their NFL streaming purchases, especially in markets that don’t have NFL teams.
For example, Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals fans living in Columbus, Ohio, rarely get the full slate of their team’s games broadcasted over linear airwaves. One would imagine those fans would like to have the option to buy the individual games they can’t currently watch without purchasing the entire NFL Sunday Ticket package or going to an establishment that has it.
One potential option could be a team pass, which could allow a fan access to a full season’s worth of an individual team’s games. That reality, however, is that the NFL holds the leverage and it appears that it will continue to prioritize pushing its most complete — and thus, most expensive — collection of out-of-market games.
As NBC Sports’ Peter King said in April: “Just say what you really mean: We’re testing the market to see how many people we can get an additional $200 a year from even though they’re probably only going to watch their favorite team from far away.”
Unlike the NFL, the NBA has already experimented with options, both through its NBA Single Game program (which only allows the use of mobile devices) and some individual teams’ own streaming services. It’s hard to imagine the league would go through the trouble of making such offerings if there wasn’t a demand for them.