This story was written by Staci D. Kramer.
NBC Sports and the NFL have another one-year deal to live stream the network’s coverage of Sunday Night Football on their respective sites, NBCSports.com and NFL.com. The digital package, which is technically separate from the two-year extension for broadcast rights announced Wednesday, kicks off on a Thursday, Sept.10, with the Titans and the Super Bowl champ Steelers. [Thanks, Joe Flint, for catching my rematch mistake so fast.] The deal includes revenue sharing with NBC selling the advertising just as it does for broadcast. NBC Sports also can syndicate streaming rights but hasn’t made any agreements yet for this season; more on that below.
The biggest change this year, besides the fact that it’s no longer a novelty: NBC Sports will be using its HD-quality player using Microsoft’s Silverlight technology for Sunday Night Football Extra. Last year’s Adobe (NSDQ: ADBE) Flash player predated a new deal between NBC Sports and Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) that covers the NFL, the Olympics, Wimbledon, and Universal Sports. While there are some financial elements in the overall Microsoft-NBC deal, a value swap is at the core: NBC gets technology and development for its player (which is actually produced by Vertigo Software) and Microsoft gets a major promotional platform for its continuing search for more market share.
NBC Sports claims it can offer the highest quality yet in a video player for sports; the extras include slo-mo replay, full DVR functionality and the ability to open the player during the middle of the game and rewind to the beginning to catch a missed play or just catch up. It also includes four additional camera angles. Unlike most online TV rewinds, which tend to come with another commercial, NBC Sports digital head Perkins Miller promises that won’t be the case. “We’re not going to do that every time.”
—The money: Miller said he can’t really go into to the economics of the deal: “The goal is to have us both make money off of it. We are both participating in revenue. ... We’re still very early in this. It’s still very much an experiment. It’s worth more and more every year.” How much can an online game be worth? ” It depends on how you want to net this out. We’re into the seven-figure range from a revenue standpoint.” That means it’s possible one digital game brings in less that one 30-second Super Bowl spot—NBC reportedly sold some for $3 million a pop during the last SB. Even though the streaming and broadcast deals are separate, they are inextricably entwined. The NFL could sell the broadband rights elsewhere but is highly unlikely to honk off the golden geese, putting the rights with each broadcaster as long as the two can agree on terms. At the same time, NBC sees digital as a way to support and extend television in terms of viewers and advertisers. Miller says close to 100 percent of the advertisers for SNFE are advertising on the broadcast, even more than the 85 percent overlap in the Olympics.
The webcast has the same number of avails plus each of the additional camera angles can be sponsored. HMiller said the ad market has been moving slowly but the demand is “pretty remarkable.”
—Syndication:Last year, Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) came in for the second half; Miller told paidContent the network is talking to Yahoo again and other portals, including Olympic partner MSN and AOL (NYSE: TWX), and he’s “hopeful we’ll have support.” It’s a little tricky, though, because syndication centers on the player, not the actual redistribution of the feed. And there’s no embedding. Says Miller, “It’s not embeddable; it’s a full-page player dedicated to simply playing video. For another site to link to it is fine.” Clicking that link will take you back to the control of NBC Sports and the NFL every time. That’s why you may see links to SNFE show up in Hulu’s video directory but not live game video in a player on the NBCU-News Corp.-Disney JV site. Asked about YouTube, which has worked with CBS (NYSE: CBS) and is using Sony (NYSE: SNE) and ESPN (NYSE: DIS) players now, Miller said, “The possibility exists for us to frame this player like NCAA did with CBS” (for March Madness) but it’s not on the table just now.
By Staci D. Kramer