In the sports world, football is king and the major networks generally shell out millions and millions of dollars just to secure the rights to a few games on broadcast TV. However, what networks including NBC and CBS still don’t have the rights to is streaming football games. There’s a lot of potential on the market right now for streaming live sports, and it looks like one unlikely internet-based company may try to land a deal to stream NFL games in the near future. That’s right, one day in the near future you may be able to watch football from the comfort of the same social media network where you also post pictures of babies and complain about politics.
Currently, the NFL is out shopping a streaming sports package. That package would include streaming rights to Thursday Night Football games, which is certainly a huge deal. On Monday, Facebook VP of partnerships Dan Rose told Variety that Facebook is currently in talks to secure the streaming rights for the aforementioned upcoming football games. In addition to the games, if Facebook nabs the deal, the company would also like to put together other content before or after the games, including behind-the-scenes stuff.
Of course, Facebook isn’t guaranteed the Thursday Night Football rights. Currently, the social media giant is bidding for the rights alongside Amazon and Verizon, who both also want to be in business with the NFL. (Interestingly, CBS, which already airs Thursday Night Football and has its own streaming service, was not mentioned.) Of the three companies that are listed here, Facebook Live is certainly the oddest possibility for the streaming franchise, as the company hasn’t wholly proven it is viable for large-scale streaming, yet, although the service does have the ability to push NFL streaming on a large number of users.
If Facebook nabs the contract it would help the company in its efforts to expand the Facebook brand into a whole other arena: Live video. Facebook’s streaming platform, Facebook Live, has been up and running for a while. Mostly, celebrities like to use it to share information, answer questions, or show off behind-the-scenes footage before events. Chris Rock used it before the Academy Awards ceremony, for instance. It’s proven to be a good tool on a small scale, but streaming a football game may take more finesse.
The NFL and Yahoo actually partnered up for a streaming experiment just a few months ago. The estimated viewership during the experiment was 2.36 million viewers per minute during the game, which shattered other streaming records everywhere, although there were plenty of hiccups with the actual streaming of the footage. Audience members reported unreliable connections and more. Facebook could likely achieve higher numbers than the Yahoo experiment, and hopefully given time any early streaming issues could be worked out.
The Thursday Night Football streaming news comes just a little over a month after the NFL already reworked the rights to football. In the past, NBC has aired Sunday Night Football games and CBS has aired Thursday Night Football games. Moving forward, however, NBC has paid a lot of money to air five Thursday Night Football games, leaving CBS to also air five Thursday Night Football games. The streaming, however, will be handled separately. We’ll let you know as soon as the new deal works itself out.