NBC and the NFL are set to try an experiment. They will simultaneously stream “Sunday Night Football” games over the Internet at the same time as the traditional TV broadcast on NBC.
The NFL wants to know whether such streaming will cannibalize the game broadcasts on broadcast television. The league believes football fans crave statistics, interactivity, multiscreen and multicamera angle technology.
By streaming, the NFL thinks advertisers of sports programming will get a different and perhaps more valuable consumer to target. Of course, they also want more ad money without negatively affecting the traditional TV audience.
There is some precedent, because streaming already works with basketball. The NCAA streams basketball games with little effect on the traditional TV audience. The NFL’s concern is that far fewer games are played in a football season, leaving much less room for error.
The NFL is betting on what almost every TV programmer has discovered so far — the Internet has little effect on traditional television. NBC learned that lesson again last week with the Olympics when Internet activity actually boosted traditional TV viewing levels.
The NFL has had consistently high regular-season viewing, with last year’s Super Bowl the most viewed event of all time. If anything, it hopes the Internet streaming will up the marketing pace for traditional TV viewing.