The National Football League kicks off its regular season Thursday (Sept. 6) with an eye on reaching its fans across all platforms.
The league has dropped restrictions to stream local and nationally televised games on mobile phones, so fans can now watch their favorite local team's games within their respective home markets on the NFL Mobile App as well as via Yahoo Sports.
Prior to this season only Verizon subscribers could watch such games directly on their phones and tablets.
By allowing free, mobile streaming access to local CBS and Fox Sunday afternoon games as well as NBC’s Sunday Night Football and ESPN’s Monday Night Football games, the league is acknowledging the fast-paced change in consumer viewing habits to digital, particularly among young viewers.
Earlier this year the league renewed its partnership with Amazon to offer 11 Thursday night NFL games that will air on Fox broadcasting to its Prime Video subscribers.
“With the [digital streaming] market maturing and with more viewers watching online, the league is looking to maintain viewership across all platforms as consumer habits change,” said sports consultant Lee Berke.
He added that online viewership will continue to become a bigger percentage of the league’s overall viewing audience, but remains a far cry from the eyeballs the league garners from its linear broadcast and cable games. Even with concerns over the well-chronicled, year-to year ratings decline of televised NFL games, the sport remains in great shape heading into the new season.
“I don’t think there is a drop-off of interest from people watching NFL Football – 37 or so of the 50 top-rated shows last season were NFL games – but there’s a change in terms of where they want to watch it,” he said. “The league needs to be where those viewers are, and that’s what they’re addressing.”