The NFL built its popularity on the strength of free over-the-air television. But the powerful league is taking another step into the pay-for-play by making fans pay to watch a playoff game this January.
The NFL announced NBCUniversal’s Peacock will be the first streamer to exclusively show an NFL playoff game on Jan. 13, 2024.
An NBC Sports spokesman confirmed to Front Office Sports that fans must sign up for a “Peacock Premium” subscription for $4.99 a month, or $49.99 a year, to watch the game. Peacock has grown to 22 million subscribers.
Whether fans like it or not, the deal marks another step into pay streaming for the NFL.
The league previously signed an $11 billion, 11-year deal to put “Thursday Night Football” on Amazon Prime Video, which costs $14.99 per month or $139 per year.
Details on the NFL-Peacock deal:
- Peacock will stream an NFL Wild Card Playoff game in prime time on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024. The streamer will also show its first regular season game on Dec. 23, with the Buffalo Bills taking on the Los Angeles Chargers.
- The playoff stream will come immediately after a late afternoon NFL Wild Card Playoff game on NBC Sports. So NBCUniversal will effectively show back-to-back Wild Card games. NBCUniversal will be the first media company to present three NFL Playoff games in a single weekend.
- Both the playoff and regular games on Peacock will be broadcast on local NBC stations in the competing teams’ cities.
The one-year deal is in the range of $110 million, according to Wall Street Journal, which first reported the playoff partnership.
“We are thrilled to partner with the NFL on this industry milestone, bringing to Peacock the first ever exclusively live-streamed NFL Playoff game,” said Pete Bevacqua, chairman of NBC Sports, in a statement. “With America’s No. 1 primetime show for a record 12 consecutive years, the terrific regular season [Sunday Night Football] schedule revealed last week, and today’s announcement, we can’t wait for the 2023 season to kick off.”
Hans Schroeder, executive vice president and chief operating officer of NFL Media, said “expanding the digital distribution of NFL content while maintaining wide reach” continues to be a key priority.
“Bringing the excitement of an NFL playoff game exclusively to Peacock’s streaming platform is the next step in that strategy,” he said.
Sports Media Watch noted it will be just the second NFL playoff game that won’t air on a broadcast network. ESPN carried an Arizona Cardinals vs. Carolina Panthers Wild Card game exclusively on basic pay cable TV in 2015. ESPN’s playoff games have been simulcast on sister Disney broadcast network ABC ever since.
Before Super Bowl 57, some media experts speculated the NFL would generate massive revenue by taking the Super Bowl off free TV and making it a pay-per-view.