NFL kicks off online in 3 o’seas markets

Webcast is first for pro sports

NEW YORK — Fans of the National Football League in the Netherlands, Austria and Singapore, which don’t offer Sunday afternoon games on TV, will be able to watch some of the contests on the Web starting Sunday.

Computer users will have to link up with local Internet broadband providers to get clear pictures and sound.

These experiments “are part of the NFL’s overall plan to expand its international base,” said Tola Murphy-Baran, senior VP of market development for NFL Enterprises.

Murphy-Baran acknowledged that “there are not that many broadband-equipped households around the world.” But Chello Broadband is offering the technology in the Netherlands and Austria, where the games will be transmitted live, and SingTel Magix will deliver the broadband content to computers in Singapore, although the games will be delayed by two days.

Online first

No other professional sports league has explored the Webcasting of its games, said Murphy-Baran, who compares the NFL’s initiative to its 1994 introduction of NFL Sunday Ticket, the out-of-market subscription TV package that helped drive the circulation of DirecTV. The pro basketball, baseball and hockey leagues quickly followed suit.

The Netherlands and Austria will get two Sunday games, the Cleveland Browns at the Baltimore Ravens and the Minnesota Vikings at the Green Bay Packers. Singapore will get Minnesota-Green Bay and the Denver Broncos at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.