NFL live online, the tip of the death of broadcast television

The National Football League (NFL) has announced that it will start streaming live broadcasts of Sunday-night football games online beginning in September.

Under the deal, NBC will offer its live feed to the NFL and the feed will be available free on both the NFL and NBC websites.

To use a cliche, it’s one small step, but a highly relevant one in relation to the discussion following my post arguing that broadcast television will be the first traditional media medium to fall. One strong, recurring argument against the eventual failure of broadcast television is that people will always want to sit around and watch a live sporting event on the big screen television. In offering Sunday-night football online, the NFL proves that the delivery method is irrelevant in terms of the end result: you can get live sport online, and you can watch that on a big screen if you’ve got the tech to do so.

I’d note, as I did in the last post, that this is still the tip of the iceberg. Millions of households don’t have devices to stream this game onto their big screens and we are still some years off that access becoming a reality, but it is happening. The costs are coming down and the tech is starting to happen.

Consider the reason for the move, from the LA Times:

For much of its history, the NFL has kept a tight grip on the rights to its games and the use of its images. But with more consumers, particularly younger viewers, turning to their computers for entertainment, the NFL wants to steer the nation’s most popular television sport into the digital age.

The content goes where the viewers are. Today that content is produced by NBC for television and then fed to the stream, but you don’t actually need a broadcast television network to produce a show, you need a production team/ company. Eventually you won’t need a costly television broadcasting license to get to your audience either. Not today, not tomorrow, not next year, but the shift is on, and broadcast television will eventually fall.

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