NFL to Launch Ad-Supported Digital Network

NFL Now will stream highlights and NFL Films content—but not live games

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Thursday announced plans to launch a new digital network called NFL Now, which will stream original content to a range of connected devices that includes everything from smartphones to Xboxes. A spokesman confirmed to Adweek that the app will be ad-supported, though possibly not on its higher tier, where a fee will apply.

If that sounds familiar, it ought to—WatchESPN, ESPN’s streaming app, also offers a host of football content, and the WWE is debuting a platform originally marketed as a linear network on digital devices at the end of the month. But unlike Bristol’s service, NFL Now will not offer streams of live games. Instead, the new network will provide highlights, specially-produced content from every NFL franchise and archival footage from NFL Films.

Set to launch in July, NFL Now’s content will be tailored to individual users, allowing them to set team preferences, follow players in their fantasy lineups and so on.

“Eventually, no two users should get the same experience on NFL Now,” said an NFL Media spokesperson, who added that users can up- and downvote videos to help the personalization process along.

It’s a better value proposition for consumers than it may sound at first blush—for one thing, the basic service will be free.

NFL Media COO Brian Rolapp characterized consumer desire for digital content as “insatiable,” adding that the app will be available online as well as through various mobile and gaming devices.

Rolapp also said the league would follow up with a premium edition of NFL Now at a later date. Programming and the fee structure for the premium version were not disclosed. “It’s too early” in the development process for such particulars to be ironed out, Rolapp said.

If the league is looking to clear the rights to the URL, it will have to buy it from under a cybersquatter. Registered by Domain Asset Holdings of Potomac, Md., the asking price for the domain is $10,000.