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The NFL, YouTube would make for great teammates

Evan Dashevsky | Aug. 22, 2013
According to reports, Google is talking to the National Football League about putting out-of-market games on YouTube. Evan Dashevsky thinks such a deal would make sense for the NFL, for Google, and for fans.

It is also important to note that Google was represented in its talks with the NFL not only by CEO Larry Page but by YouTube content boss Robert Kyncle as well. YouTube has been steadily building its brand recognition as an original content studio, rather than a mere conduit for adorable cat videos and other meme-ish oddities. In just the past year, YouTube has championed paid subscriptions for its popular channels, established original content events like Comedy Week and Geek Week, and re-vamped its mobile app to make it more Chromecast-friendly (and therefore, friendlier to living rooms as well).

Whatever happens, Google appears to be making all the right moves to make YouTube a content network, not just a user-submitted video repository.

Why this makes sense for fans

As consumers lurch over the tipping point of comfort with streaming content, there is increasing competition to become the go-to conduit for streaming-to-TV access with suitors in the form of Microsoft, Apple, Roku, and countless others.

The NFL could prove to be just the product that could tie America's heart to one preferred medium--as the league did for Fox two decades ago. And as with Fox in the early 1990s, Google may be willing to take a financial loss with expensive NFL rights--at least, at first--as the real return on investments will be further down the line in the form of brand legitimacy.

This is all conjecture, of course, but a theoretical YouTube NFL channel would give fans more affordable access to the out-of-market game across multiple screens. (It is very unlikely the NFL would give up very lucrative in-market network TV deals for now.) Unlike with DirectTV, YouTube would be able to offer access to just the NFL channel. Currently, Direct TV requires users to buy a DirecTV home subscription when available. (The provider does offer online access to Sunday Ticket without a home connection for $300-a-season, but only when DirecTV is not available).

Google could certainly offer a better deal than this. In the process it might sell a lot of Chromecasts and--more importantly--get more eyeballs acquainted with YouTube on the TV.

For the 201314 season, Sunday Ticket remains a DirecTV exclusive. So for the next several Sundays, as I'm forced to interact with with drunks recalling all of the Giants' past Super Bowl victories, I will have at least some hope that in the not-too-distant future, I may yet get access to the NFL in the comfort of my own living room.

 

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