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Potential Google-NFL Deal Means Season Games on YouTube

If reports of a potential Google-NFL deal pan out, come 2015, Sunday Ticket subscribers could be watching season games on YouTube. With DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket rights set to expire at the close of the 2014 season, competitors will soon have the chance to bid on the popular sports content package, putting an apparently interested Google in good position to take control.

Speculation of the Sunday Ticket switch-up came after reports of a recent meeting between Google CEO Larry Page, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and Robert Kyncl, head of content at YouTube.

Sunday Ticket is a subscription service that gives users access to all season games, including out-of-market games that are not broadcast nationally. Currently, DirecTV pays $1 billion for one year of rights. Google, with a reported $56 billion of cash on hand, could easily outbid the broadcast satellite service provider. A Google-NFL deal—though a long way off and far from certain—would mark Google’s most aggressive push into the television market. It would also pose a major threat to the industry model of traditional cable pay systems and content bundling.

On Bloomberg Surveillance last Thursday, Techonomy’s David Kirkpatrick joined Bloomberg Contributing Editor Jeffrey Hayzlett to talk about the impact and likelihood of the rumored Google-NFL deal—and whether viewers would support it. Some doubt that NFL fans—accustomed to the mega-screen viewing experience—would be on board with using YouTube to stream football games on their computers. But Kirkpatrick and Hayzlett believe the transition would be easier than critics might think.

“People just want their content,” Kirkpatrick said. “They’re used to a million screens. They want it anywhere they can get it.” Traditional viewers can watch YouTube on their TVs, he added, pointing to Google’s recent hardware development Chromecast, which enables viewers to send content from their computers and other devices to their televisions. “Google is building a whole infrastructure to make it brain-dead simple to watch whatever they have on YouTube on your big-screen TV,” he said.

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