I am a long-suffering Philadelphia Eagles fan. Not only am I apparently destined to be perennially underwhelmed by the team's on-field results, but as a resident of New York City, I am forced to make my way down to the local sports bar where I am subject to the conversational whims of inebriated Giants fans. Since I'm not a DirecTV subscriber and therefore don't have access to the NFL Sunday Ticket offering, the local sports bar is my lot in life if I ever want to watch my team on television on most Sundays. However, there may be a glimmer of light in the distance: According to reporting from AllThingsD, Google has begun early negotiations with the National Football League about putting out-of-market NFL games on YouTube. This could prove to be a wonderful thing, for both Google and for NFL fans.
First, we must note that these are little more than conversations between two large corporate entities. Companies have conversations all the time, but that rarely means that anything will come of it. Heck, Yahoo was having conversations with Mark Zuckerberg about buying Facebook back in 2006. Still, Google teaming up with the NFL at this particular time would make sense for a variety of reasons.
First, Google has a lot of money--certainly enough to best DirecTV's $1 billion-a-year deal with the NFL (and Google has been more than willing to engage in billion dollar deals as of late). For its part, the NFL may indeed be interested in teaming up with Google, but at the very least is willing to let DirecTV--whose contract ends at the end of this season--know that it has other pigskin suitors.
Why this makes sense for Google
Google has been on the fringe of TV for years, but has never been quite able to make its way into the "endzone" of the American living room. This is something the NFL can help with. Hands-down, professional football is the most popular sport in the United States; aside from the additional eyeballs and attention it brings, NFL games carry the cachet of being all-American, mainstream, apple pie. It was arguably the NFL that gave legitimacy to the upstart Fox network (then associated with low-brow fare like Married with Children) when it first won the rights to broadcast NFC games in 1994.
Mainstream cachet--and ubiquity--is something that Google desperately wants right now for its video-on-demand options. This is particularly true now as the Mountain View, Calif., tech giant may have finally discovered the key to America's collective living room in the form of Chromecast. At only $35, Google's little TV dongle will give every modern TV access to the Web via Google in a way that Google TV has never been able to accomplish over the past three years. Since its introduction last month, Chromecast has sold at a brisk pace; so much that Google has had problems keeping up with demand.
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