Streaming is making it harder to watch sports


The streaming revolution is making it harder (and more expensive) to watch the sports that you love.

The NFL announced that Netflix will be exclusively airing the league’s Christmas games for the next three years, adding another service that fans will have to subscribe to if they want to watch games. There are six television channels that have NFL games: ABC, CBS, ESPN, Fox, NBC, and NFL Network. There are also now four separate streaming services that carry exclusive games, including prime-time and playoff games: Amazon Prime Video, ESPN+, NBC’s Peacock, and now Netflix.

This issue is plaguing more than just NFL fans. Multiple college football games are exclusively on Peacock. Major League Baseball’s blackout rules have not been helped by turning to streaming services. ESPN has paywalled several leagues and games on ESPN+, including hockey, soccer, mixed martial arts, and boxing. The latter two also sometimes require a pay-per-view fee on top of your streaming subscription, with boxing also being spread out across multiple services.

That pay-per-view model is effectively being offered to NFL fans as well who do not have subscriptions to those aforementioned streaming services, and everyone knows it. That is why NBC Sports President Rick Cordella tried to dismiss association with that term. That is what it will be though, especially in the cases of Peacock ($5.99 a month with ads), Netflix ($6.99 a month with ads or $15.49 a month without), and ESPN+ ($10.99 a month with ads), which do not have a weekly offering as Prime Video ($8.99 a month) does with Thursday Night Football.


This fracturing of sports broadcasts into multiple separate streaming services adds even more of a burden for fans with the increased costs behind multiple other subscriptions to which many weren’t subscribed. NBC’s pay-per-view playoff game on Peacock is a prime example, and the NFL slapping Christmas games on Netflix shows that the league is keen to continue banking major broadcast deals with streaming services for exclusive games.

Regardless of how you want to spin this, it is going to result in fewer games for fans who are being forced to budget time and money toward all of these separate services across multiple sports. Fans are going to be the ultimate losers, especially as this trend shows no signs of stopping.

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