NFL Plans to Stream Game Exclusively on the Web

For the first time, the NFL will air a game via the Internet. Could this be a sign of things to come?

If you want to watch the Jacksonville Jaguars take on the Buffalo Bills next season, you’ll have to tune in online. For the first time ever, the National Football League is airing an NFL game exclusively on the Internet.

It’s a monumental move for the NFL, because large sporting events aren’t usually seen on the Web, Re/code reports.

But times are certainly changing. Dish Network’s new Sling TV service allows its customers access to ESPN without a cable or satellite TV subscription. Sling TV costs $20 a month and includes a number of major channels, in addition to ESPN.

But before you get too excited about the NFL coming to the Web, Re/code said the move appears to be more of a trial than anything.

In this case, the NFL hasn’t even figured out who it will sell the game rights to, which is one big flag that this is more of a trial than a strategy. Another is that the game will be about as low-stakes as a regular season NFL game can get: Jaguars vs. Bills — two teams with relatively small national fan bases — live from London, which means that it will air at 9:30 a.m. in New York and before breakfast time in much of the country.

The NFL signed $27 billion worth of TV contracts in 2011, but a partnership with an Internet company isn’t entirely out of the question, The Wall Street Journal said.

Lee Berke, a leading sports-media consultant, called the move the beginning in a long-term plan to sell a package of games to an over-the-top distributor when the next set of media contracts become available. “This is the first step in a thousand-mile journey,” Mr. Berke said.

What do you think of the NFL showing a game exclusively on the Web? Is this the direction you think the NFL should go? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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