Cable companies would hate a Google-NFL deal

It would take broadband customers one step closer to cutting the cord.

By Benzinga Aug 22, 2013 3:14PM
copyright Ghislain & Marie David de Lossy, Cultura, Getty ImagesBy Tim Parker

If you haven't heard, Google (GOOG) and the National Football League are in some form of communication regarding the NFL Sunday Ticket rights that will be up for grabs beginning with the 2015 NFL season.

At this point, the story isn't so much about Google or the NFL. It's about something much bigger that has to have cable companies very nervous.

The media has made a big deal of a story that isn't much of one -- at least right now. 

According to AllThingsD, the NFL and Google are engaging in "informal talks" that could potentially bring the NFL's Sunday Ticket package to YouTube. If you're not a hard-core football fan, the Sunday Ticket, in its current form, allows fans to view out-of-market games produced by Fox (FOXA) and CBS (CBS).

Currently, DirecTV (DTV) owns the rights and offers it over the internet, on some tablets and smartphones, as well as on Sony's (SNE) PlayStation and JetBlue (JBLU) flights.

According to the story, the NFL is meeting with multiple Silicon Valley companies on a range of topics -- the Sunday Ticket being only one. Contrary to the attention its receiving from the media, it's not much of a story, especially given the fact that DirecTV is reported to be ready to fight to keep the rights.

The real story in this is bigger than the NFL or Google. First, we're seeing evidence that the sports world, which hasn't been quick to adopt new media strategies, is ready for change and appears to see the need to adopt new formats to attract the next generation of viewers.

During the PGA Championship, we reported that Fox Sports would broadcast the U.S. Open, U.S. Women's Open and the U.S. Senior Open from 2015 to 2026. Fox has never televised a golf event but what seemed to sway the United States Golf Association was the idea that Fox would bring a fresh perspective to the events. 

But this deal would be even more disruptive and cable companies would hate it. With the Time Warner Cable (TWC) versus CBS war still showing no signs of a resolution, there's concern that the deadlock could continue into the NFL season.

This would be disastrous for CBS and the NFL. Even now, watching the events unfold (or not unfold), the NFL has to be thinking that it's time to consider new ideas. Google has more than enough cash on hand to not only buy the rights but also build out a robust infrastructure. The Chromecast could put the NFL on the TV sets of every broadband customer furthering the "cord-cutting" push that cable companies fear.

Netflix (NFLX) is producing award-winning content, Google wants a piece of the NFL, and don't be surprised if Apple (AAPL) doesn't get it on a deal like this. 

Bottom line -- there's more than enough cash in the bank accounts of these companies to make cord cutting a reality and the more deals like these happen, the less we'll all need traditional cable.

Disclosure: At the time of this writing, Tim Parker was long Apple.

More from Benzinga 
Aug 22, 2013 3:30PM
Lets stick it to the cable companies.  Get backs are a bitch!
Aug 22, 2013 10:48PM
Google Sports, Netflex Movies and Hulu Shows all streaming from your phone provider to your TV.  Now there's the future - cutting out the cost of Cable or Satelite completely.  Once that happens you can say also goodby to Primetime NBC, CBS and ABC.  Their content is mostly ideas from previously cancelled shows anyway.   Still want local chanels ?  An antenna works just fine - in the city of course.
Aug 22, 2013 7:20PM
It's not complicated, the cable companies will will charge more for internet access.
Comcast can go jump in a lake! I want to pay per game.
Aug 22, 2013 5:50PM
Sports is the only reason cable is still around.       Without live sport event rights,  on demand non-sport content would have closed the doors to the "cord" companies a long time ago.
Aug 22, 2013 7:25PM

Why is it that nobody points out that a very large chunk of this country does not have enough bandwidth to accommodate streaming high-def games. A 3mbps download is currently the fastest many can achieve without adding much more expense. That same 3mbps doesn't even begin to deliver an adequate quality stream for the game(s) one may wish to watch in standard definition...let alone high-def! On the bright side, perhaps if the NFL & Google come to terms, fans would see where the League's true devotion stands and football would become just another sport like rugby. But I don't seriously 'think' the NFL is foolish enough to let that happen.

As for 'multiple' providers - you need large numbers in order to make responsible, affordable, & useful advancements. Competition is not ALWAYS in the best interest of consumers.




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