Football is back! With the second week of the 2009 NFL season wrapping up there aren’t a lot of legitimate choices out there for catching a game on online. Sure you can do a quick internet search and find plenty of sites proclaiming live streaming of NFL games but these sites are sketchy at best with most games going “offline” rather quickly (have to think the NFL is out in force on game day). I do have to give kudos to NBC for bringing their Sunday Night Football games to the online world for free.
With cable and satellite TV costs skyrocketing and many people opting to cut this luxury from their dwindling budgets, the average fan looking to get their NFL fix is stuck. Last season NBC started airing their Sunday night games and continued the trend this season. I just wish the NFL would add to the mix some more games. Granted, it would be incredible to catch every single game online for free, but I understand this could definitely undermine the potential revenue stream of the league.
This is where NBC is the real winner. With one prime-time game a week, NBC is creating a great opportunity to brand itself and create a solid fan base. Heck, throw commercials my way! Give me a game for free and I’ll watch a two-minute video, I’ll even pay attention to the commercials you air on the broadcast network! You are giving me the opportunity to watch an exciting game, offer an HD experience with DVR-type controls (major plays are even tagged along the video time line, if you miss one with a simple click you are taken to that key play and with a click of a button can return to the live action!), plus as a bonus the opportunity to view the game from other camera angles during the action.
Television networks are coming along slowly but surely with the online experience. Just looking at the success of sites like Hulu will show there is a hungry audience online. We aren’t rogue “kill your television” consumer out here. For whatever reason we have made the choice to consume content online and still have great loyalty to our favorite shows, maybe even more than the average couch-bound channel surfer.
It seems that the typical way to give consumers online content is either in a delay-based, on-demand format or making it a premium. I don’t think this approach will necessarily work well in the long term. Advertising is the major way TV stations make their money and having the ability for local affiliates to sell advertising locally is key. How about having to enter in your ZIP code when you watch online content? This way you can feed localized advertising into the mix of your national advertisers making all parties happy.
I think the NFL would go a long way and find they are including more people by giving some things away. You don’t have to have every game on but by giving away an early and later game on each Sunday, you are exposing your brands and teams to a wider audience. NBC gets it and has proven this with its Sunday night games. More exposure brings more fans and more fans equates to more people coming through the gates, buying branded merchandise and giving your advertisers a captive audience. Hopefully more leagues will see the value in this and is just not “giving it away” with nothing in return.