NFL Opens Up a Bit: To Webcast Sunday Games With NBC; Other Partners Wary

imageThe National Football League, which has been very protective of its online usage rights, has opened up a bit, and is going to webcast 17 regular-season games, mostly Sunday night matchups, in conjunction with NBC Sports. NBC, which broadcasts “Sunday Night Football,” will make its TV feed — including Al Michaels’ play-by-play and John Madden’s commentary — available on websites run by both the network ( and the league (, reports LAT It will start with the NFL Kickoff game on Thursday, Sept. 4, between the Washington Redskins and New York Giants.

NBC will sells the ads across the webcasts, and will share the revenues. Viewers will be able to choose from among at least four live camera angles and review stat updates in real time. NFL Network CEO Steve Bornstein called this a one-year experiment to figure out user habits, and any cannibalization effects.

Playoff games and the Super Bowl will not be offered online, nor will the regional games televised by Fox Broadcasting and CBS (NYSE: CBS). These networks together pay the league $3.7 billion a year in fees for exclusive rights to carry its games. Even though it is only 17 games and excludes the 239 other games on CBS, Fox and ESPN (NYSE: DIS), not sure whether these networks would be happy about the exclusion, or if they were approached for a similar experiment.

Last year place-shifting TV provider Sling Media had tied up with *DirecTV* to give the satellite company


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