The DIY version of NFL.com is up and running, marking the National Football League’s transition from selling its online rights to operating its own site. The league was paid an estimated $120 million for its five-year deal with CBS Sportsline; prior to that, a three-year deal with ESPN reportedly ran $10 million. This time, instead of making another deal, the league opted to keep the ball and, well, execute its own plays, much as it did with the creation of the NFL Network. The NFL took control last October; this is its first season and so the first real test for the league — and for its competitors.
On the plus side for CBS Sportsline, NFL.com has extended its fantasy football relationship although it also has a free fantasy area. The NFL’s stranglehold on some content matched with video search with custom highlights of every skill player and a new statistics database will make the site a must for intense fans. The league promises exclusive video highlights within minutes of each game’s finish, NFL Network programming, a searchable photo gallery for each of the season, etc.
It’s too soon to tell the full impact any of this might have on other sites although the emphasis on exclusive rights for its own properties already is being felt by media outlets that cover the league. Limits on online coverage of press conferences, practice video and player interviews include a 45-second maximum of video per day (90 seconds in two-team markets), no live coverage, 24-hour expiration, links to NFL.com or official team sites, and more.