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NFL Plans to Award Global Digital Rights to Thursday Games

Now that the NFL has figured out what to do with “Thursday Night Football,” it has to determine what do with what might be called “ThursdayNightFootball.com.”

The sports league intends to move quickly to resolve the issue of who should stream the games via broadband, both in the United States and around the world, said Hans Schroeder, the NFL’s senior vice president of revenue strategy and development, in an interview.

“It’s a real attractive opportunity, having someone who is truly a global player that can reach our fans around the world through a single platform,” said the executive, who declined to specify any companies with which the NFL is in negotiations. The league views securing digital rights for the game as a “top priority,” said Schroeder,  who said discussions are “pretty far along” and expects to have the matter settled “in the next several weeks.”

The league on Monday came to terms with both CBS and NBC to broadcast five Thursday-night games each over the course of the next two seasons. CBS will broadcast five games earlier in the season while NBC will have games in the latter half. The NFL’s own NFL Network will simulcast those contests.

But the NFL has long been eager to test its hand at distributing its matches in new venues.  Yahoo was able to stream a game from London between the Buffalo Bills and the Jacksonville Jaguars last year during the current season. The streaming broadcast attracted around 15.2 million unique viewers around the world, with one-third of the viewers hailing from the United States, and 33.6 million total views. Yahoo made the game available for free.

“Our model has always been built on reach,” said Schroeder. “We are looking at all the digital players. Those that have really big platforms are at the top of our list.”

 

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