With the return of the NFL through its 4-week August pre-season schedule (one of the first games of which saw the Denver Broncos defeat the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks around 6 months too late), the well-known american football league has set out to further expand their media presence, with one of the biggest commercial entity in sport attempting to do so by teaming up with one of the most commercial technological entities in the world, Apple.
An unsettling development for anyone who fears corporate powerhouses combining, though for the parties involved it will appear on paper as a mutually beneficial deal, as NFL add their NFL Now app to iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV.
The app, which had been announced for a summer release on Xbox One (amongst other platforms) prior to the Apple announcement, is to guarantee 105 hours of original content per week, alongside an already-present 400 hours’ worth of archived footage. That archive is to include ‘historical highlights’ from each of the league’s 32 franchises, as well as of every Super Bowl from 1967-2009.
Also featured will be access to the league’s ‘NFL Films’ selection, segments and features from the NFL Network, as well as live streaming of press conferences and NFL Network shows.
A headlining ability of the new service, though, appears to be the introduction of a personalization option, offering viewers the chance to have recommended videos based on their favorite players & teams, and synchronisation to their official NFL fantasy team roster in a similar manner, if they have one. The features are noted as creating a ‘customized video stream’ that evolves throughout the season, with the NFL explaining that this will occur: “…to the point where no two registered fans will have the same experience on NFL Now.”
Whilst the download and basic features of the app are free, the NFL are naturally pushing their more ‘premium’ packages, which include ‘NFL Now Plus’ for $1.99/month (or $4.99/month for non-American subscribers), bringing users instant in-game highlights, whilst select foreign viewers along with Americans will gain the added benefits of NFL Network live streaming and Sunday access to the NFL Red Zone. Whether those customers will consider it value for money remains to be seen, so will Apple become the ideal partner for the NFL to get to where they want in the streaming market?
A trailer for the NFL Now service, ahead of the 2014 season, can be seen below: