The hold pay TV has over sports is coming to an end. When it does, around 60 percent of its users will be up for grabs. Streaming services aren’t waiting, though — they’re already looking to lure them in. Recently, ESPN+ picked up a 49-game NHL package, and Amazon Prime Video has been broadcasting a host of NFL Thursday Night Football.
NFL is the big-ticket item
Sports have been a hot topic in streaming for as far back as we can remember, with the NFL being the No. 1 consideration for most cord-cutters. So, when NFL executive Brian Rolapp said they’re watching how Amazon Prime Video handles their broadcast of English Premier League matches, everyone took notice.
According to Rolapp, the problem is streaming bandwidth. No technology company can handle the massive 25 million strong viewers some NFL games can get. Considering the expense to cover that audience, this is a two-horse race between Amazon Prime Video and Disney’s ESPN+.
The question is, who will win the race? The NFL is the biggest sport in North America. Its importance is bigger than any intellectual property — Star Wars and Marvel included.
How did Prime do?
From Amazon’s perspective, the broadcast of English Premier League games drew in a record number of new Prime memberships. The bigger question is, what did the NFL see?
There were some negatives. Some fans reported buffering of video, drops in visual quality, and worst of all, up to a minute delay between reality and stream.
However, what Amazon Prime Video did deliver was all games across a three-day period. It allowed absolute freedom for the subscriber. This meant any game, any time, anywhere — Complete with a RedZone-style show that crossed to each live game for the big events. Amazon also offered in-game stats and a toggle between commentary and stadium atmosphere.
Despite some technical issues, the overall reaction was positive. This should scare pay TV. Once technology catches up to the NFL’s scale, Amazon Prime Video could be a front-runner — not only for NFL’s digital rights, but in the streaming war.