Maybe it’s an attempt to get more money out of TV networks. Maybe it’s an effort to see just how much cash internet players are willing to spend for live sports. But NFL executives announced at the league’s owners meetings on Monday, that the league will stream its first regular season game next fall.
The NFL will sell the rights for the Jacksonville Jaguars-Buffalo Bills game in Week 7 to a digital distribution company. The game will be played in London and fans in Jacksonville and Buffalo will have to stream it because no broadcaster or cable network will be carrying the game.
Brian Rolapp, NFL Executive Vice President, Media positioned the game as “just us taking a game and experimenting with what IP distribution might look like.”
This marks a clear change in the way the NFL is doing business. The league has long relied on television—in 2011 it signed $27 billion worth of TV contracts—but they have in recent years teased the idea of a partnership with an internet company.
Previously, Bills owner Terry Pegula has said of the team being chosen to play in the International Series:
We are excited about the opportunity to play in London next year against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Wembley Stadium is such a historical venue and we are proud to be a part of the league’s long-standing tradition and commitment to playing NFL games in front of London’s strong fan base. We feel it will be a great week for our organization and Bills fans everywhere, particularly those in the UK.