during Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas.

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