New York--The NFL’s latest media play is to let fans get personal.
America’s most popular sport will kick off a new personalized video network, NFL Now, next summer, prior to the start of the 2014 preseason. Replete with select in-game highlights and highlights/videos produced by NFL Media, the ad-supported NFL Now will be a video-on-demand outlet of sorts allowing the user to keep abreast of the 32-team league or focus on his/her favorite club and fantasy players. Original content will be gleaned from NFL Network, NFL.com and NFL Films, plus the teams themselves. It will also give users access to live events, press conference and perhaps even a touch of precious practice footage.
A premium subscription, NFL Now Plus, will afford users full access to the network’s breadth of content, including all of the fare produced by NFL Media and NFL Films' fully digitized library which at this juncture spans some 100 million feet of film. Pricing plans were not disclosed.
Two years in the making, NFL Now, announced by commissioner Roger Goodell and executive vice president of media Brian Rolapp, among other league officials, at a press conference at the Marriott Marquis here Thursday, will be available on iOS, Android and Windows mobile services, and over the Internet through NFL.com/NFLNow. The experience will enable users to switch seamlessly between screens with video resuming play from where it left off on the prior device.
The network will get plugged with a pair of promos during Fox's coverage of Super Bowl XVLIII on Sunday.
Verizon, the league’s official wireless service provider, will be a presenting sponsor of the NFL Now and make the distribution stream available to its customers through its LTE multicast technology.
Via a partnership with the pro pigskin circuit, Microsoft will offer exclusive NFL Now interactive features as part of Xbox One. As its first distribution channel in the console-connected TV arena, NFL Now will also be integrated into the NFL on Xbox One app that bowed last year.
Yahoo! will also serve as a distribution partner for NFL Now within Yahoo! Sports and Yahoo! Screen sites and applications. The fledgling service will also gain exposure across Yahoo!’s media properties.
Asked if broadband networks operated by MPVDs could become part of NFL Now’s distribution roster and offer their own customized features, Cory Mummery, vice president and general manager of the personal video network, told Multichannel News after the press conference that the service is “open to distribution discussions on various platforms.”
Mummery expects the personalization of fantasy-player highlights to prove popular. All told, some 35 million people engage in some form of fantasy football around the NFL.
During the presentation, Rolapp said NFL Now will also play into fans’ interest that extends well past game days, noting that 60% of the consumption on the league's extant digital platforms occurs from Tuesday through Saturday.
"This appetite for NFL content is borderline insatiable. More and more, you see that in video,” he said, pointing to presentation graphics indicating that digital video consumption has grown by one-third over the past few years, with mobile consumption, surging 152% growth over the same period.
Afterward, Rolapp said there wasn’t any time frame for announcing a new partner for Thursday night telecast package that is expected to result in flanking simulcasts of the contests on NFL Network. The NFL’s national TV partners – ESPN, Fox, CBS and ESPN, as well as Turner Sports – have all submitted bids.
Rolapp, when asked if he expected that distributors would seek a reduction in monthly subscriber fees for the league's in-house network if its game slate is also presented on a larger channel, replied that the league is “interested in enhancing the value of NFL Network.”
NFL Network, which has presented a 13-game primetime schedule of Thursday Night Football games the past two seasons, counts some 72 million subscribers, and collects a reported monthly subscriber fee of $1.25.
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