We got a glimpse of the future of watching football on Sunday morning. Some day, streaming services — not cable, not satellite — will probably be the way we watch everything. On Sunday, with the Bills-Jaguars game in London streaming on Yahoo, we got a glimpse of that. I thought it was a good show, but there’s still work to do before the NFL would be ready to make streaming the primary way it shows all its games.
I was watching on my Apple TV, and I have good high-speed Internet from Comcast. For me, there was no buffering at all and a crystal-clear picture as good as I get when watching cable or satellite. Obviously, not everyone has a digital media player or high-speed Internet, and many users complained that on older computers or slower connections, the quality wasn’t as good. If you have a really slow computer or a really slow Internet connection, you wouldn’t be able to watch at all. That wasn’t a problem for me, but it would be a problem for tens of millions of Americans, and until the penetration of digital media devices and high-speed Internet rivals that of cable and satellite TV, it’s hard to envision the NFL showing many games online only.
But it’s coming some day. The NFL’s current deals run through the 2022 season, and you can bet that for the next seven years, the league will conduct more experiments with streaming games like the one it conducted yesterday. If it finds the right way to provide streaming games to fans, it’s possible that in 2023, the league will embark on a new contract with Netflix or YouTube or Hulu or some streaming video service that doesn’t exist yet, and that we’ll all watch all our football on the Internet.
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