Over the course of the first four live-streamed NFL games (which kicked off Sept. 4), the league says it attracted an audience of more than 500,000 unique visitors, each of whom spent an average of 40 minutes online. The NFL also found that the live-streaming is not cannibalizing the TV audience; in fact, most people are looking at the games on the web in addition to watching them on television.
“We’ve found that this is an additive product, that there’s a lot of fans who are using this to supplement coverage,” said Dan Masonson, the NFL’s director of corporate communications. According to Masonson, most people watching online have their TVs on at the same time; they’re using the web primarily to check alternate angles (the most popular come via the cable cam, which rides above the action, and the end-zone cam).
The interplay between old and newteevee is working as well. Masonson said online traffic has risen as much as 28 percent whenever a graphic promoting the web streaming is shown on TV.
Masonson wouldn’t speak to the financials of its streaming this year, saying that such details were confidential.
Last year, the NFL offered live-streamed what Masonson called “look-ins;” at :15 and :45 past the hour, fans could visit NFL.com and check out the live action happening at that moment. Additionally, there was a streaming option for people who subscribed to DirecTV’s NFL Ticket “Superfan” package, which cost $389. So while still limited to just some of the games, this year’s web options are in a whole other league in terms of accessibility.
One aggravation I had when checking out the first streamed game of this season was the fact that a Sprint ad appeared every time I switched to a different camera angle. This may have been fixed in subsequent games.
The league isn’t saying whether or not it will continue the live-streaming after this season. Masonson called it an “experiment” for the NFL; the league is still learning, he said, and will re-examine the possibilities after this season.