This is the news that sports-loving cord cutters everywhere have been waiting for. The NFL is going to stream one game online during the upcoming season free of charge. One game might not sound like a big deal. But, if it's successful, this single matchup could persuade the NFL to stream even more games online in the future.
I told you about the NFL's plans a few months ago when details first started to trickle out. So, who's playing? The game will pit the Jacksonville Jaguars against the Buffalo Bills in London on Oct. 25 at 9:30 a.m. Eastern time. Anyone who wants to watch it can tune in online through Yahoo, Yahoo Sports, Yahoo Screen and Tumblr.
But, the game won't just be online. Local fans in Jacksonville and Buffalo will still be able to catch the CBS broadcast of the game on their TVs. It will also be shown at 4:30 p.m. in Moscow, 9:30 p.m. in Beijing and 10:30 p.m. in Tokyo.
The Jaguars and Bills aren't exactly marquee NFL teams. Wouldn't the league have a better chance of boosting online ratings if it streamed a marquee matchup featuring big-time teams like the New England Patriots or Dallas Cowboys? Probably. But, the NFL chose this match up for a reason. It wants to see how many fans will tune in online to see any old game.
If the Jacksonville-Buffalo match up draws in enough fans, it could persuade the NFL to stream more big time contests in the future. I wouldn't expect that to happen anytime soon, though. The league is locked in to TV deals through at least 2022, so the broadcast model won't see a major upheaval for a while.
“We need to prepare for the future,” NFL executive vice president of media Brian Rolapp told The MMQB. “Have we entered into a new era? Maybe. Maybe not. Obviously TV is still the dominant platform to distribute our games, as it has been for years. But TV is not the only platform any more, and this is the first time in history we have done this with one of our games."
That doesn't mean you have to pay a hefty cable bill to watch NFL games, though. Matchups are still broadcast for free in home markets. That means you can catch games featuring your local team using an affordable HD antenna like the one in my store.