As we approach the 2012 NFL regular season, let’s take a look at the online streaming plans for the League’s TV partners. Believe it or not, online real-time streaming of games began back in 2007 when DirecTV released its Supercast app for computers (for Internet Explorer only!) and allowed subscribers to its NFL Sunday Ticket service to watch the Sunday afternoon games online. At that time, streaming to mobiles was just in its infancy and the quality on a 3G network was horrible.
The following year, NBC announced it would stream its entire Sunday Night Football schedule online.
Since then, the NFL has taken baby steps in streaming. DirecTV’s Sunday NFL Ticket has expanded to mobiles and tablets as well as a gaming platforms. ESPN’s Monday Night Football now streams on the WatchESPN service, but only for authenticated subscribers of Bright House, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon Fios systems. And the NFL has provided mobile streaming rights to Verizon meaning only customers of the cell phone provider can watch Sunday, Monday and Thursday Night Football on their devices.
With the new TV contracts signed at the end of last year, the NFL’s broadcast and cable partners have limited streaming rights. I’ve asked several networks about their streaming plans and I’ll provide answers, where applicable, on how this season shapes up online, on mobiles and on tablets.
- CBS — No streaming plans.
- DirecTV — NFL Sunday Ticket streamed online, mobiles and on tablets. Also on participating gaming consoles.
- ESPN — Monday Night Football streamed online and on tablets at WatchESPN only for authenticated cable customers (Bright House, Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon Fios)
- Fox — No streaming plans.
- NBC — Sunday Night Football streamed online at NBCSports.com also available on tablets through browsers. Not available through the NBC Sports Live Extra app.
- NFL Network — Thursday Night Football streamed on mobiles through NFL Live on Verizon devices only. Awaiting word if there will be streaming on tablets this season.
Sunday and Monday Night Football are streamed on mobiles through NFL Live on Verizon devices only.
While Super Bowl XLVI was streamed through NBCSports.com only on computers, there’s no word yet whether CBS will receive permission to stream Super Bowl XLVII. It had sought to stream Super Bowl XLIV in 2010, but was turned down by the league. We’ll see if the NFL decides to allow CBS to show the Super Bowl online in 2013.