In a surprising turn of events, supporters of the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs residing outside the respective cities are facing a paywall to watch their teams in the NFL Super Wild Card Round. The decision stems from an exclusive broadcast agreement between the league and NBCUniversal, granting Peacock, the web streaming platform, sole rights to air the game. Subscribers are required to pay $5.99 monthly, with an ad-free option available at $11.99.
Kelly O’Brians, a sports bar in Colorado Springs known for its dedication to showcasing every NFL game, was caught off guard by this revelation. Bartender Danielle Kempema-Rediger expressed the staff’s dismay, saying, “We’ve been stuck in front of the computer or on the phone every day for the past few days.”
The bar, adorned with NFL helmets and memorabilia, subscribes to DirecTV’s Sunday NFL Ticket at an annual cost of $4,000. Despite the hefty investment, the bar can legally broadcast the game on only three TVs due to licensing restrictions.
The shockwave extended beyond local establishments, reaching fans nationwide. Danielle revealed that many mistakenly believed they could access the game via their home Peacock accounts, emphasizing the need for proper licensing through UPshow.
This marks the first time an NFL playoff game will be exclusively streamed online, prompting reactions from various quarters. Assistant Professor Brett Siegel of UCCS sees this as a unique yet unsurprising development, aligning with the trend of cord-cutting and the rise of streaming channels, especially among younger Americans.
Siegel anticipates this may become a recurring trend, driven by the league’s desire to attract a younger audience. He cited the successful streaming of Thursday Night Football on Amazon Plus since 2022 as evidence of the NFL’s strategic moves.
While some, like NBA icon Charles Barkley, criticized the decision, calling it “low-class,” others expressed their discontent through social media using the hashtag #BoycottPeacock. Fans nationwide voiced their frustration, with some humorously referencing popular memes to convey their displeasure.
Despite the outcry, Siegel believes that the league is gradually testing the waters and that exclusive streaming may not become a widespread practice in the near future. Meanwhile, Kelly O’Brians in Colorado Springs faces the challenge head-on, aiming to be prepared for the unexpected in the evolving landscape of sports broadcasting.