NFL Embraces Streaming As They Balance Tradition and Digital Evolution

The NFL has been embracing the streaming revolution in recent years, with significant milestones such as its first exclusively streamed playoff game, which proved to be a resounding success. This positive reception has prompted the league to commit to having at least one playoff game exclusively on a streaming service every year.

In addition to this, the NFL has expanded its streaming offerings, including exclusive regular season games on platforms like Peacock and Amazon. For instance, a new “Black Friday” game was introduced on Amazon, and the entire “Thursday Night Football” package is now available on the platform.

Furthermore, an international game will be exclusively streamed on ESPN+ for the 2024 season, with the Philadelphia Eagles set to participate in the first game held in Brazil.

Eagles’ Owner Jeffrey Lurie Harbor Doubts Over NFL Changes (Credits: Getty Images)

While streaming continues to grow in popularity and the NFL is expanding its presence on digital platforms, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie doesn’t foresee a significant shift away from broadcast television. He emphasizes that the NFL’s traditional model of airing games over-the-air remains its primary focus and core strength. However, with the increasing demand for streaming content and the league’s efforts to reach broader audiences, streaming services are becoming an integral part of the NFL’s distribution strategy.

“I don’t see it more and more, but what I do see is the population embracing streaming in certain ways, tremendously,” Lurie remarked at the NFL Annual Meetings this week. “So technically, it was the wild-card game on Peacock that was a huge success. I think they had 21 to 22 million viewers, and technologically, it was excellent. And so, it’s also a younger demographic.”

“The NFL, like other sports leagues, but we’re proactive when it comes to demographics; we want to appeal to younger audiences. Streamers and platforms like Amazon have the ability to deliver younger audiences. The beauty of the NFL is that most of it is on free television and it’s going to remain that way for a long, long time. That’s the basis of the popularity of the NFL.”

Eagles’ Owner Jeffrey Lurie Harbor Doubts Over NFL Changes (Credits: Getty Images)

Under the NFL’s current contract, the league has an all-digital package with “Thursday Night Football” on Amazon, an exclusive game on ESPN+, and an exclusive game on Peacock. CBS games are also simulcast on Paramount+, NBC games are simulcast on Peacock, and ESPN/ABC games are also simulcast on ESPN+. Amazon added the exclusive “Black Friday” game and a wild card playoff game over the past year, as part of the growing inventory of streaming.

With 23 million tuning into a wild card playoff game, the NFL will continue to leverage streaming platforms as long as it can. Lurie reassured fans that the league doesn’t intend to shift the bulk of its inventory to streaming.

“I wouldn’t want anyone to think it’s just another way to expand the distribution of games,” Lurie emphasized. “But the bulwark of NFL games are free and provide direct access for all consumers.”