×

CBS Will Live Stream NFL Games on Its ‘All Access’ SVOD Service

CBS has secured a deal to live-stream its package of Sunday afternoon and Thursday-night NFL games on its subscription-video-on-demand service, a major coup that puts some of the most coveted content on TV on a digital platform controlled by a traditional TV company.

CBS will begin streaming the games on its “All Access” SVOD service this Sunday. The pact will also include pre-season and post-season games that CBS has the rights to air on its broadcast TV network, along with the Super Bowl, when its CBS’ turn to air the event.  The Super Bowl broadcast rotates among CBS, NBC and Fox, all the broadcast networks that have deals to air NFL games. All of the “NFL on CBS” games remain available on mobile devices exclusively through the NFL Mobile app for Verizon Wireless customers.

The deal marks a coup for CBS, which has been in discussions to gain rights to live-stream the games since it launched “All Access” in October of 2014. The National Football League has been experimenting with digital distribution, and earlier this year struck a deal with Twitter that granted that social-media company the rights to stream NFL “Thursday Night Football” games around the world. Those games air on CBS, NBC and the NFL Network during the course of the season. “Making sure we can make our content available everywhere is certainly paramount to our future,” said Marc  DeBevoise, president and chief operating officer of CBS Interactive., in an interview.

Terms of the deal could not be learned, but CBS is expected to pay the NFL more for the live-streaming rights. The network pays approximately $1 billion a year for the rights to air NFL games on Sunday afternoons in deal that lasts from 2014 to 2022, and pays approximately $225 million for a package of five Thursday-night games in a two-year deal that will end after next season.

“CBS has been one of our most trusted and valuable partners for over 50 years, and we’re happy to extend our relationship with them in new and exciting ways,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, in a prepared statement. “Distribution of our games on ‘CBS All Access’ is a win for the millions of NFL fans across the country, especially those looking to watch our games on these emerging digital platforms.”

For years, live sports have proven to be the one TV genre resistant to the steady erosion of audience sparked by new technology that allows consumers to stream video on mobile devices at times of their own choosing. Because most fans want to watch the games as they happen, not days after they air, sports events have proven a boon to a TV business grappling with how to monetize a viewership migrating toward new video behaviors. NFL games continue to capture some of TV’s biggest audiences, which prompts advertisers to fork over millions. Fox is seeking more than $5 million for a 30-second ad in next year’s Super Bowl, according to ad buyers familiar with negotiations. The average cost of a 30-second ad in NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” this season is a whopping $650,000, according to Variety’s annual survey of primetime ad prices. The average cost of a 30-second ad in “Thursday Night Football” ranges between $505,463 and $529,989, with both CBS and NBC seeking significantly more in sales talks, according to people familiar with the matter.

In recent weeks, however, even the mighty have fallen. NBC’s recent Olympics broadcast from Rio suffered a decline in TV ratings even as digital activity proved robust. And viewership for football in the first several weeks of the season dipped, with ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” particularly hard hit. NFL and TV executives have attributed the football disparity to factors ranging from rabid interest in the recent presidential election to the quality of the match-ups this year.

At the NFL, executives are very much aware of shifts in viewer behavior. “Fans will continue to be digital. They will continue to be more mobile. They will continue to be more social in how they engage with content, said Brian Rolapp, the League’s executive vice president of media, in an interview with Variety earlier this year.  “I don’t think that is going to change, and that’s going to be accentuated by the fact that this younger generation — and specifically the millennials — is going to continue to grow.”

CBS, which has its roots in broad TV fare ranging from “Captain Kangaroo” and “Green Acres” to “NCIS” and “The Big Bang Theory,” has also made strides to appeal to a rising generation of viewers accustomed to getting their video entertainment on-demand. “All Access” was designed as a way to monetize an audience on the go. And while it offers hours of both current primetime series and older favorites, the company has less say over live sports, since rights to the games are strictly controlled by the various leagues behind them.

CBS said “All Access”  subscribers will receive all NFL ON CBS games being broadcast in their local market.  Beginning next season, the deal will allow “All Access” customers and eligible pay-TV subscribers to stream CBS’ NFL content on the NFL’s own digital properties.  “All Access” will also allow users to sample content from NFL Game Pass, the NFL’s digital video subscription service, which makes games and other programming available on-demand.

More TV

  • Kumail Nanjiani

    Kumail Nanjiani on Not Wanting 'Little America' to Focus on the Political System

    Apple TV Plus’s anthology drama “Little America” may not be about politics, but by telling tales of immigrants in a polarizing time, many people feel there is a political undercurrent to its themes. “It is amazing that we are living in a time where kindness, empathy, humanity and shared experience feels like a political statement,” [...]

  • Apple TV Plus Renews 'Mythic Quest:

    Apple TV Plus Renews 'Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet' Ahead of Series Premiere

    Rob McElhenney, Charlie Day and Megan Ganz’s “Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet” has been renewed for a second season ahead of its series debut, Apple TV Plus announced Sunday. The half-hour comedy follows a team of developers as they navigate the challenges of running a popular video game. It was inspired by McElhenney’s visit to Ubisoft’s [...]

  • Apple TV Plus Home Before Dark

    Apple TV Plus Mystery 'Home Before Dark' Renewed for Season 2 Ahead of Series Premiere

    “Home Before Dark,” Apple TV Plus’ mystery series inspired by the real-life reporting of 9-year-old investigative journalist Hilde Lysiak, has nabbed an early Season 2 renewal ahead of its series premiere on April 3. Directed and executive produced by Jon M. Chu and created by showrunners and exec producers Dana Fox and Dara Resnik, the [...]

  • 911 Lone Star rob Lowe

    '9-1-1: Lone Star': TV Review

    In some ways, Rob Lowe is a fit for the Ryan Murphy universe. Something about his actorly vanity — so much a part of his star persona that it tends to impact every project he works on — feels lurid and unseemly in exactly the bad-taste way as does much of Murphy’s work. A plotline, [...]

  • Asa Butterfield in Netflix's Sex Education

    Netflix & Sky Strike Multi-Year Deal To Keep Streamer On Service

    Comcast-owned pay-TV operator Sky and Netflix have hammered out a new multi-year deal to keep content from the streaming giant on the service.  Under the new deal, customers of Sky’s set-top box service Sky Q will have the option to opt in for Netflix’s basic plan, which is priced locally at £5.99 ($7.99) per month. [...]

  • Paradigm Agency Cuts 30 Staff Positions,

    Paradigm Agency Cuts 30 Staff Positions, Mostly in Music

    Paradigm has made a significant cut to its staff, laying off about 30 agents and support staff or 4% of its employees, Variety has confirmed. Sources said most of the layoffs were in the music area at the agency and took place Friday.. Paradigm, which had about 700 employees prior to the layoffs, had no [...]

  • Edward Burns'Alex Cross' film premiere, Los

    Edward Burns Dramedy, Blumhouse TV Docuseries in Development at Epix

    Epix is eyeing some potential new additions on both the scripted and unscripted front. Network president Michael Wright unveiled Epix’s development slate, which includes two scripted projects and three prospective docuseries, at its Television Critics’ Association winter press tour day. One of the two scripted series hails from Edward Burns who is best known for [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content