Streaming Services & Sports: An Unreasonable Money Grab

For as long as anyone could remember, popular sports leagues such as the National Football League (NFL) were available to view on cable and network television, easily accessible to anyone with a TV screen. Less than two weeks ago, the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins matched up in the NFL playoff’s American Football Conference wildcard round. However, this game was particularly unique. If fans wanted to watch the big game, they needed to buy a subscription to the streaming service Peacock.

Peacock, owned by NBC, is a popular streaming platform that offers a variety of entertainment options like movies, popular television shows, and live sports. NBC paid the NFL a hefty lump sum of $110 million dollars to exclusively carry this playoff game between the Chiefs and Dolphins.

The business deal was deemed a success for both companies since this playoff game was the most streamed event in the history of the United States. The NFL got paid their $110 million and Peacock got an exclusive audience— for all intents and purposes, a win-win.

Although the NFL may be happy with this on the business side of things, it must leave people wondering whether it was worth the exclusivity? The league has since received backlash across all platforms and, most importantly, from the die-hard NFL fans.

I asked current WMCX Sports Director Dan Yeserski, a junior communication student, about his reaction to the deal between the NFL and NBC. He replied, “I think that it was greedy by the NFL, but it’s a trend that is shown in all sport’s leagues. It feels like more teams and leagues are slowly moving towards being excessively streamed. It happened to people with cable and now it’s happening with streaming services. It almost feels like a cycle.”

Nick Giannantonio, a sophomore communication student, responded, “Personally, you can look at it from two sides: the fans’ side, and the business side. Of course, as a fan you have to be upset with the NFL doing this, not only because it is a playoff game, but it now opens the door for every other sport to do the same thing: force the consumer to pay to watch. When the ratings came out, the Chiefs game was lower than the rest, but it still competed with the other games. This only proves that this is the way of the future as fans will pay to watch. So, from a business side of things, it’s genius. From the fans’ perspective, it’s a shame that consumers need to pay more than they already do to watch their team play. Hopefully for the fans’ sake, someone steps up and puts an end to this.”

The NFL makes billions of dollars annually, so it is not like they are in dire need of an extra $110 million dollars as that is only a small percentage of the money the league has brought in this year. Notwithstanding, it’s a shame that the NFL has forced their fans to buy a streaming service to watch a playoff game, considering NFL fans already give the league so much money and popularity.