FINALLY! NFL offers live streaming games

Webcasting has officially made its way to the beer-and-football mainstream thanks to the National Football League, which has announced plans to stream live broadcasts of Sunday night football games this fall. These streams will be the first time the NFL's content is made widely available online, and the news means that the patented Madden "Boom!" will soon be coming to a laptop near you.

Both the NFL and its broadcast partner, NBC, will provide sites dedicated to the webcasts. In addition to the live TV feed that features commentary from Al Michaels and John Madden, both sites will feature a variety of extra content. These include highlight clips, views from multiple cameras, live statistics, and blog content. True fanatics may find the site worth visiting even if they have access to the TV broadcast.

The move is surprisingly forward-looking, given the NFL's historic anti-online stance when it comes to its games. As many Internet-using NFL fans know by now, the league keeps an extremely tight leash on even the tiniest of clips from its games. The organization even made headlines last March when it sent a series of DMCA takedown notices to Brooklyn Law School professor Wendy Seltzer because she posted a clip on YouTube that showed the NFL's own copyright notice. In August, however, the NFL took its first baby steps into the big, bad online world by signing a deal with DIRECTV that would allow some satellite subscribers to watch games streamed live to their PCs.

Still, the DIRECTV deal was pretty restrictive, making this new offering even more noteworthy. "We are taking a big leap here," NFL Network's Steve Bornstein told the LA Times. "We are looking at this as a learning opportunity to see what applications work online. We are trying to be innovative and creative to make the viewing experience better for our fans."

NBC plans to sell advertising for the webcasts (presumably they will be free to the public) and the revenues from the ads will be shared with the NFL. Given the massive mainstream appeal of NFL games, the potential for this venture to rake in the advertising dollars is huge. This ain't no live broadcast of an artsy-fartsy documentary or the Jackass 2.5 movie; this is Reggie Bush trying to become the second coming of Barry Sanders.

The NFL and NBC plan to begin offering streams on September 4, a Thursday night game between the Washington Redskins and the New York Giants. After that, they will do regular broadcasts of Sunday night games.

If the league is successful, the move could open up the door to other mainstream TV content being broadcast live online, rather than delayed, as most network fare currently is. Live online House, here I come!

The NFL's press release, announcing the plan.

Found this Post interesting? Discover more Curious Reads.
[via arstechnica]

More Post From The Web