NFL accepting bids from Apple, others to stream Thursday Night Football

The NFL is now accepting bids for streaming rights to its Thursday Night Football package, Sports Business Daily reports. In addition to the usual formal request-for-proposal (RFP) that the league sent to its usual TV partners, an RFP also went out to Apple and several other digital companies including Google, Yahoo, and Amazon, to stream the entire Thursday night schedule on a non-exclusive basis, with sources suggesting that the plan would have the digital streams simulcasted with television production, including the same ads and in-game production features. While bidding for television rights is expected to start in the low $300 million range, reflecting what CBS is currently paying for the package, it’s not clear how much the NFL is expecting to make from the streaming rights, although sources noted that the availability of streaming is not expected to diminish the fee for the TV rights.
This package would seemingly make sense for iOS devices, but it would be especially appealing for the new Apple TV, potentially giving the set-top box in-demand content that wouldn’t be found among competitors. Some of us have thought Apple should have pursued the full NFL Sunday Ticket package in the past. NFL Sunday Ticket carries all of the games that haven’t been blacked out in an NFL team’s home viewing area, and it remains a DirecTV exclusive after the satellite provider agreed to a $12 billion deal with the NFL last year. The Thursday Night Football package won’t have nearly the same appeal among NFL fans, but it will also cost much less, while still offering popular streaming content for cordcutting football fans. It’s unclear, however, if Apple has any interest at this point.

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