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: NFL launches streaming service, but it has serious limitations

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There’s now a streaming service for the NFL, but there’s a catch.

The National Football League on Monday announced NFL+, featuring live games for mobile devices starting at $4.99 a month, or $39.99 a year. A higher-priced tier, offering ad-free streams and condensed game replays, will be offered for $9.99 a month, or $79.99 a year.

The service, which launched Monday, includes live, out-of-market preseason games; live local and primetime games, both for the regular season and playoffs; live local and national audio for every game; on-demand NFL Network shows, NFL Films archives and more.

But the service comes with a few caveats: For one, viewers will only be able to watch on their phones or tablets — not on their TVs. And live local and prime-time games had previously been available to stream for free from the NFL’s mobile app. Also, subscribers can’t watch out-of-market regular-season games, unlike the similar subscription services for the NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball.

“Today marks an important day in the history of the National Football League with the launch of NFL+,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to grow NFL+ and deepening our relationship with fans across all ages and demographics, providing them access to a tremendous amount of NFL content, including the most valuable content in the media industry: live NFL games.”

Live sports, especially NFL games, are by far the most popular programming for TV and cable networks. Last year, 95 of the 100 most-watched telecasts were live sports, and 75 of those were NFL games, according to Sports Business Journal data.

A number of companies — including Apple Inc.
AAPL,
-0.74%
,
Amazon.com Inc.
AMZN,
-1.05%
,
and Disney’s
DIS,
-0.03%

ESPN — are currently competing for broadcast rights for the NFL Sunday Ticket package (which shows out-of-market games) beginning in 2023, with the league reportedly seeking a price tag around $2.5 billion. The New York Times reported Sunday that Alphabet’s
GOOGL,
-0.36%

GOOG,
-0.14%

YouTube has also joined the fray. Apple is reportedly seen as the front-runner in those negotiations.

The NFL’s exhibition season kicks off Aug. 4, with the Jacksonville Jaguars playing the Las Vegas Raiders in the Hall of Fame game. The regular season starts Sept. 8.

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