The networks’ experiment with live sports on the Web continues; this time, with the most valuable league in US sports.
The National Football League and NBC U will announce a plan Monday to put Sunday night football games on the Web, the WSJ reports. The deal starts with the Sept. 4 season opener, and comes right after NBC will have streamed thousands of hours of the Olympic Games on the Web over 17 days in August.
NBC is eager to find new distribution to build audiences for the sports–especially those for which it has paid exhorbitant rights fees. The 2008 Olympics cost NBC U close to $900 million, but NBC paid $3.6 billion ($600 million a year) for their six-year broadcast deal with the NFL through 2011.
Unlike MLB, which streams all games on the Web, the NFL has taken a conservative approach to protect the $3.7 billion it reaps annually from its TV contracts. And this move, which only deals with national games (no local affiliates, advertisers and blackout rules to deal with) is still quite cautious:
The league and NBC say it is an experiment. They hope to prove they can lure new viewers and people who are already watching at home by adding interactive elements. Viewers will be able to choose from among at least four live camera angles and review statistics that update during the game, according to the league. The league and the network will share in ad sales.
NBC streamed the live TV feed on the Web for TIger Wood’s battle with Rocco Mediate at the 2008 U.S. Open with very little advertising because the TV ads were stripped out. That playoff gave NBC Sports its best-ever day online with 9.1 million page views. For the Beijing Olympics, NBC is selling 15- and 30-second pre- and mid-roll ads
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