Is the NFL next on Netflix's conquest roster?
Now that the digital service has shaken up the TV world with original series such as "House of Cards," a report Wednesday suggests that it might make a deal with the NFL for broadcast rights for at least some games.
The league has "considered selling the Thursday package to a nontraditional media partner, including online players like Netflix Inc. or Google Play," according to the Wall Street Journal.
If such a development occurred, Netflix subscribers wouldn't be the only ones noticing a change. Football games are among the most-watched programs on TV. The NFL has enabled NBC to dominate Sunday night ratings. ESPN is usually at the top of the cable heap with Monday games. If some telecast rights went to an online platform, it would give broadcasters serious competition -- in real time. Unlike "House of Cards," viewers wouldn't watch NFL games at their convenience. They would want to see them live, as they are played.
Here's the caveat. Netflix has long told investors it doesn't do live sports or news. And a spokesman reiterated that principle to Show Tracker on Wednesday. (Funny thing about corporate strategy, though: It's always changing.)
And NFL officials, for their part, say the Thursday games - which currently air on the league's own NFL Network - aren't going anywhere.
"That's news to us," league spokesman Brian McCarthy said of the Journal's report about the Thursday package.
However, other games could be in play. DirecTV's contract for Sunday afternoon games, packaged as Sunday Ticket, expires in 2014, which would give NFL officials some games to negotiate with soon. Is an online provider possible? Well, note that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell did take meetings at Google back in August.
The league has deals for Sunday games with Fox, CBS and NBC. Those contracts expire in 2022. The ESPN agreement is up in 2021.
McCarthy declined to discuss whom the league was talking to, of course, but added: "We're not ruling anything out."
What do you think? Would you watch NFL games on Netflix or Google?
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