The NFL’s Digital Buttfumble

Football fans were irritated that the Chiefs-Dolphins game was behind a paywall. I watched a 15 minute highlight reel on youtube for free shortly after the game. It was great, and provided me with 2 hours to do something else.



“The Kansas City-Miami playoff contest is barricaded behind a paywall, leading to fan irritation.”

Ironic that the WSJ article is behind a paywall…



The WSJ has always been “behind a paywall”. The NFL used to be on free, network TV. That’s apparently changing.



Hopefully, ALL “pro sports” will go to PayTV, then it will not interrupt OTA broadcast schedules.

Maybe because I’m getting old, but it is hard to watch an entire game of any sport. The Lions had their biggest game in over 3 decades last night, and I didn’t even watch all of that one. And luv to turn down the sound of the announcers ( and the never ending stream of commercials ) and listen to music or a podcast while the game is on. I don’t think people like us ( the denizens of this board ) are the NFL’s target audience, lol.


I’m not sure we’re anybody’s target audience. Any suggestions for board sponsors?


Nothing is behind a paywall forever.


Glad someone else noticed the length of 60 minute NFL games. Why do NFL games morph into 3-1/2 hour drudges. Part of the problem:

  • Unending commercials
  • 12 timeouts (3 per team per half)
  • Injury timeouts
  • Contested calls (red flag)
  • Silver Alerts for some old dude that’s lost up in Dallas
  • Half time commentary
  • Have you ever seen a game start exactly at Noon? No it’s always 12:07 or later.
  • Two minute warning periods that last at a minimum 15 minutes.
  • All if which screws up the remainder of the evenings TV schedule.

But I digress.

It won’t interrupt … because once that happens it will become more and more likely that OTA broadcasts begin to disappear completely. Live sports is one the few remaining “big draws” to OTA broadcast TV.

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Um, an apparent golfer complaining about wasted time during a sports broadcast? :grin:

I’m a Bills fan, so I need all the extra time to:

  • come up with new curse words to yell at theTV
  • take my blood pressure at least a dozen times
  • explain to my wife what a first down means approximately 20 times
  • text my sons about how incompetent the coaches are
  • disparage players who celebrate (aka showboat) about a play when they’re down 17 points
  • remove heavy objects that could cause damage when I throw them at the TV
  • explain to my wife that the blue line on the field isn’t real, it’s just computer graphics
  • remind my wife that players don’t get extra points for having a cute but [synonym] (I can’t believe these censors. Come on!)

Which is both surprising and not surprising that this game was streaming-only. This was the marquee game of the weekend and NBC decided to screw the OTA affiliates. So they clearly think streaming is the way things are headed.

There are clearly too many streaming services and they are locked in an arms race to provide exclusive content. I simply didn’t watch the game rather than both signing up for another one. But undoubtedly some people did sign up. We’ll find out later if this was smart or dumb.

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If the “JCs” ever get their poo in a group, and ATSC 3.0 replaces ATSC 1.0, they can paywall everything, from football games, to Hogan’s Heros reruns, because ATSC 3.0 has DRM included in the standard.


Actually, in the local markets (KC and Miami) the game was broadcast on a local network channel for free as they do for all streaming (i.e. Thursday night) or ESPN for Monday night games.


There’s not even a small doubt that this is the case. I haven’t watched anything OTA in years. I still have my multiple tuner Tivo running, and it still records a ton of stuff, and I realized that I haven’t watched anything on it in at least a year or two. All my video content is streamed at this point. It’s just too convenient to watch any other way.

Stick with the NYT, it may be behind a paywall but it is worth it.

Nielsen says there were about 27 million streaming-only viewers, and roughly 37 million viewers overall, the other 10m coming from OTA broadcasts of home stations and their local networks. At the end of 2023 Peacock had 30 million paying customers, and typically around half of all viewers care about watching NFL games. (Plus or minus, depending on game, matchup, etc. And, in the nature of caveats, this whole post is a bunch of ifs and buts and candies and nuts, so…)

That would mean.NBC, er, Peacock, er, Comcast saw around 12 million “new” subscribers for the game; at $6 each (for the first month), that’s $72 million revenue for the month. They paid $110 million for the privilege, so maybe a loss of $40m? But wait, if any of those subscribers stick around for more than a month, then the loss is less. (Of course that ignores the ongoing costs of providing the infrastructure and programming which, given the losses at all streamers, is considerable.)

Anyway, it’s a good swift kick to the subscription numbers, it remains to be seen how much of it sticks. I’ll say $6 is not a bad price for an NFL game given that people will happily rent a movie for $4 which is half the length - assuming you care about NFL games, obviously.

Expect this to continue, as the cash grab just found yet another multi-tentacled leg with which to extract money from the wallets of the peasants.

How many signed up for the 7 day free trial just to watch the game and then immediately cancel the next day? I thought about it but had a good book at hand so didn’t bother.

Many. But of those many, a good percentage will forget to cancel. And another percentage will tell themselves “since I am already in, let’s see what they offer for a month and then I’ll cancel” … and then they forget next month.

I signed up for a free trial of Peacock+, but I used one of my premium credit cards to get 12 months or something like that. I just did it last week so we could watch the new Monk movie (it wasn’t nearly as good as the original series). And my youngest kid is an avid football (all sports) fan, so he used it to watch the game Saturday night. He will also use it to watch soccer (I think they have some exclusive European soccer contracts).

They’ll probably recoup their $110M investment. BUT, the way the NFL works is that if they do make enough money, the next contract renewal will be $150M for it.