The National Football League is launching an Internet TV service, dubbed NFL Now, designed to give gridiron fans worldwide a personalized video feed based on their favorite teams and players — and keep them in a football state of mind even in the offseason.
But the service won’t have what fans crave most: live NFL games.
NFL Now, set to launch in July, will mostly be free (stocked with ads) but there will be a subscription tier as well: NFL Now Plus, offering extra content for a monthly fee, with pricing details still to be decided. The Plus package will include every in-game highlight produced by the NFL and its partners, and provide access to the entire library of NFL Films content that is in digital format.
Marketing partners at launch are Verizon, Microsoft, Yahoo and Gillette. NFL Now will be available at nfl.com/now, on NFL Now mobile apps (as well as through Verizon and Yahoo apps), on Yahoo Sports and Yahoo Screen websites, and via other devices including Microsoft’s Xbox One.
The pro football league made the announcement ahead of Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2 — likely to be the biggest TV event of the year — feeding a new storyline to sportswriters and other media that have huddled in NYC to cover hoopla surrounding the event. The NFL Now press conference, hosted by commissioner Roger Goodell, was held Thursday at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square.
“We are always looking for ways to better serve our fans, and NFL Now will do just that,” Goodell said.
NFL Now will include original content created specifically for the digital channel, as well as game highlights, content produced on location by the league’s 32 teams, and material from NFL Network, NFL.com and NFL Films. The service also will stream live events and press conferences, such as coverage from the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction weekend and the yearly release of the NFL schedule.
As users specify team preferences, fantasy players and location, the NFL Now stream will deliver content based on those settings. Eventually, according to the league, no two users should get the same experience on NFL Now.
As they stand currently, the plans for NFL Now are not as ambitious as other over-the-top initiatives. For example, the WWE Network, set to debut Feb. 24, will deliver exclusive programming to Internet subscribers — content that would have previously been delivered through pay-TV services.
Separately, the NFL is shopping TV rights for the slate of Thursday night games during the regular season, with the league approaching CBS, Fox, NBC and Disney (which owns ABC and ESPN). Those broadcasts would then be simulcast on NFL Network. The Thursday night games could garner $800 million in additional revenue to the NFL, according to Guggenheim Securities analyst Michael Morris, as cited by Bloomberg.