The NFL Embraces Cord Cutting

By Brad Hubbard @bradhubbard

NFL & Verizon Wireless

This past Tuesday the NFL signed an exclusive deal with Verizon Wireless to stream not just Thursday, Sunday and Monday night games (along with the NFL Network & NFL RedZone) but also Sunday games starting in 2014. The cost to Verizon, a cool $1 billion over 4 years. This represents the first sports league to truly embrace cord cutting.

The NFL’s deal will gives fans access to Sunday games which are the local games. (If you live in Atlanta you see the Atlanta Falcons for example.) This is the first sports league to embrace this model. Other sports leagues like the NBA, MLB, NHL and even MLS blackout local games due to contracts with regional sports networks (RSNs). The NFL doesn’t have this problem. All of their tv rights are with national broadcasters or cable companies and not with RSNs.

What does this do for the average sports fan? Well it allows them access to their local game along with the Thursday, Sunday and Monday night games without the cost of a cable or satellite bill. This is unprecedented.

This is not free though. It is only available on the NFL app on Verizon which costs $5 a month plus whatever data you use. This could make for a hefty mobile bill if you have a data limit on your smartphone. It is also not available on your tablet however there does not appear to be any effort to block you from switching the game from your smartphone to your TV via Apple TV (if you have the Apple TV device).

The NFL may be the only league to be able to get away with this kind of deal. With the amount of money that RSNs are paying out to their local teams it doesn’t seem likely that another league would be able to cut out the local RSNs without a significant battle. How much are the RSNs paying out? Well earlier this year the LA Dodgers signed a 25-year $7 billion deal with Time Warner Cable and a new RSN was formed, SportsNet LA.

The NFL has taken the first step in recognizing where their fans are going and making sure that their product is in front of them anywhere and everywhere. It’s not free but for the price it is not a bad option if you truly want to be a cord cutter.

Cord Cutting an Expensive Option for Sports Fans

By Brad Hubbard @bradhubbard

You’ve probably heard the slow, consistant drum beat of the cord cutters. Those who watch video without the use of a cable or satellite provider. They use over the air TV, and online services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. What’s rarely talked about though is what would it cost for a true sports fan to cut the cord?

Each league and sports network offers live streaming of sports in one way or another however it is usually for a significant price or you have to have a cable or satellite subscription which defeats the purpose of cord cutting. Below is a breakdown of what each league charges for their online package:

The Cost Of Viewing Sports Online

At this stage, there it is not an economically viable solution for a fan of sports to cut their cable or satellite subscription. Let’s look at DirecTV by comparison. The Sports monthly package is $12.99 and with the Choice XTRA Classic plan, 1 HD Receiver with DVR and you’re looking at about $110 a month. The NFL Sunday Ticket plan and other sports packages (NHL Center ICE, MLD Direct Kick, etc) are all extra. But a lot of times you do not need those.

For example, if you live in Las Vegas with the above DirecTV package you get the following teams with no extra cost:

MLB: SF Giants, LA Dodgers, LA Angels, SD Padres, Oakland A’s

NHL: Anaheim Ducks & LA Kings

NBA: LA Lakers, LA Clippers, Sacramento Kings, Golden St Warriors

While it isn’t economically viable for a sports fan to cut the cord the cord cutters themselves really do have a distinct advantage, mobility. The fact is that sports fans can only watch whatever is on their TV via a Slingbox. Non sports cord cutters can use any one of the aforementioned services no matter what device they are on (phone, tablet, or  laptop).

Will there ever be a point where sports fans can cut the cord and do so economically? Probably not. If you take into consideration the continual increase in player salaries and the increase in TV rights fees it is highly doubtful that we’ll see a price decrease from any sports league or online service from a network without a cable or satellite validation.

Reference:

MLB.TV, NHL GameCenter, NBA League Pass, NFL Sunday Ticket, MLS Live