Monday, January 25, 2016

5 Streaming Video on Demand Offerings I'd Like to See in 2016 #3: NFL Films

We all know one of the most powerful/evil entities on the planet is the National Football League. We also know that if  there's one thing the league loves, it's  making money (If it can stick it to a metropolitan region while doing so, all the better). Why, then, does the NFL seem uninterested in monetizing its cast library?

Last year, the NFL trotted out a half-assed Roku channel called NFL Now. It offered (very) limited free clips, and for a small fee per month, subscribers had access to SOME of the NFL Network programming like the "America's Game" and "A Football Life" documentaries. I don't think anyone even promoted it, and it died. I would say it predictably died, but it's always a surprise when the NFL fails at making money on something. Plus I made a New Year's resolution to cut down on adverbs.

This season, NFL Channel relaunched with an emphasis on access to condensed in-season games, the same short mobile-friendly clips tailored by team interest, and no original programming. I don't know how well it's doing, but it looks like an even more half-assed effort than last year's version, and I don't get the strategy.

Here's what I don't want to see on an NFL Roku channel: in-season games. Well, actually, I'd love that access, but the league has a service called NFL GameRewind that offers coaches film and everything, and it is supposed to be great, but I don't want to pay for that.

I would "settle" for a simple NFL channel that offers, at a minimum:

1) All current NFL Network original shows within 30 days of premiering on the network
2) All NFL Network original shows that have aired
3) Extensive material from the NFL Films library: NFL Films Presents, Football Follies, NFL's Greatest Games, etc.

I mean, we all love the work NFL Films does, right? Let's see all the archival stuff with John Facenda's narration. I want to see the Raiders and Steelers of the 1970s. I want to see Montana. I want to see Namath. Right now, some of it turns up occasionally on the Network or on ESPN, and there are some DVD collections, but there is a ton of content not available anywhere.

Now let's get ambitious. Let's get not just the NFL Films specials and documentaries, but old episodes of "This Week in Pro Football" with Tom Brookshier and Pat Summerall. That should be owned by the NFL. It might be a pipe dream to get old "ESPN NFL Primetime" episodes, but I'd love to see what for years was THE source for highlights.

And what I would really, really love to see: actual complete game broadcasts. Does the league have retransmission rights for these after all these years? I don't know, but I'll bet it does, and besides, what, is CBS going to complain that the NFL shows a 1982 Vikings/Bears game? Give them a piece of the pie. Make all of it available on demand, or at least launch with a bunch, then add games each week. How much fun would it be to see the old pregame shows, too? And throw up old "Monday Night Football" telecasts with Cosell, Meredith, and Gifford each Monday in the offseason.

Would you pay 5 bucks a month for this? I sure would, especially with any kind of presence of old (and I mean pre-2000s) *complete* games in original broadcast form. I'd even be willing to consider just a package centered around NFL Films programs and documentaries if it were affordable  and not limited in terms of selection.

Unfortunately, the fiasco that occurred last week when the NFL trumpeted a screening of Super Bowl I may indicate how the NFL feels about offering its archival material at an affordable price. It lowballed the owner of an actual videotape of the game, then put together something based on footage from other sources and ruined it by having people talk over it the whole time. 

I'm not optimistic about something like my vision becoming reality, but a guy can dream. I'm surprised the league isn't at least trying something with that goldmine of archival content.

1 comment:

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