Fox to Live-Stream Super Bowl Online for Free, But NFC Playoff Games Will Be Locked Behind Pay-TV Wall

Broadcaster will offer online access to NFC postseason games only to subscribers of Comcast, AT&T, Cablevision and a few other providers

The Superbowl

Fox Sports will live-stream Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2 — the third year in a row the NFL’s championship game will be webcast for free to U.S. Internet users.

However, Fox’s NFC postseason games on the Internet will be restricted only to subscribers of a handful of pay-TV partners, with the three largest being Comcast, AT&T U-verse and Cablevision Systems, according to sources familiar with the broadcaster’s plans. (Fox declined to comment.)

Fox’s Super Bowl coverage is slated to begin at 6:30 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, Feb. 2, live from MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The stream of the Super Bowl will be available at foxsportsgo.com and on the FoxSportsGo mobile app for iOS devices. The Super Bowl webcast will include the halftime show featuring Bruno Mars.

SEE ALSO: Fox Says Super Bowl TV Ad Inventory Is Sold Out

Fox is making the NFC playoff games available only in a “TV Everywhere” model as part of its broader strategy to ensure it can continue to collect retrans fees from cable and satellite distributors — who have bridled at broadcasters making their content freely available online.

In a similar vein, Fox since late 2011 has provided next-day access to new episodes of primetime TV shows only to customers of pay-TV provider partners (and members of Hulu Plus), delaying access to everyone else for a week. ABC is adopting a similar policy for shows on ABC.com next week.

Fox’s NFC playoff schedule kicks off with the San Francisco 49ers vs. the Green Bay Packers wild card game on Sunday, Jan. 5, followed by the two divisional games the next weekend and the NFC Championship Game on Jan. 19.

CBS, by contrast, will stream its coverage of this year’s AFC playoffs on CBSSports.com for free for the first time. AFC matchups on the Eye are: the wild card playoff game between the San Diego Chargers and Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, Jan. 5; the AFC Divisional Playoff Games on Saturday, Jan. 11, and Sunday, Jan. 12; and the AFC Championship Game on Sunday, Jan. 19.

In 2012, NBC was the first broadcaster to stream the Super Bowl on the Internet as well as both of its wild card games and the Pro Bowl, all for free. CBS followed suit with last year’s Super Bowl.

This year, NBC plans to offer free live streaming of its two wild card games this Saturday, Jan. 4 — Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts followed by New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles — as well as the NFL Pro Bowl on Sunday, Jan. 24, from Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.