House Democrat Demands NFL Stop Putting Playoff Games Only on Streaming Platforms

House Democrat Demands NFL Stop Putting Playoff Games Only on Streaming Platforms

Rep. Pat Ryan, D-New York, has come under fire for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s decision to pay for the league’s playoff game.
Riccardo Savi/Getty Images for Concordia Summit; Anthony Behar/PA Images via Getty

  • Rep. Pat Ryan is outraged by the NFL’s historic decision to broadcast a playoff game on a streaming platform.
  • Ryan, a House Democrat, criticized commissioner Roger Goodell and NBC Sports for the move.
  • The Chiefs-Dolphins game will be available exclusively on Peacock for the vast majority of the country.

Rep. Pat Ryan, a Democrat from New York, is upset with the NFL and NBC Sports’ decision to air one of the league’s six first-round playoff games nationally exclusively on NBC’s broadcast platform, Peacock.

“It is absolutely ridiculous that my constituents, who already pay NBC, should pay more to watch this game,” Ryan wrote in a letter to top NFL and NBC officials. “How much more profit does Roger Goodell and NBC have to make at the expense of hardworking Americans before they are satisfied? I demand the NFL and NBC cut the BS and give fans the service they already pay for or we’re coming for your antitrust freedom.”

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Ryan, who has been outspoken about the issue in the past, wrote to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NBC Sports president Rick Cordella to express his displeasure.

“Fans already face high prices to watch every game during the regular season; they don’t deserve to be further squeezed by greedy corporations,” Ryan added. “This bait-and-switch is especially scary for consumers who already pay for NBC as part of their cable package.”

A clear primer on how to broadcast games that annoy viewers

NBC’s decision is historic because it marks the first time the nation’s most popular professional sports league has prepared to essentially pay for a playoff game.

Saturday’s matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs, the defending Super Bowl champions, and the Miami Dolphins will feature one of the NFL’s most valuable stars in Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who are seeking a third title. Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who began his career in Kansas City, is set to return to Kansas City as one of the league’s most electric offenses looks for the franchise’s first playoff victory since 2000.

In response to Ryan, the NFL noted that the game would be broadcast on NBC affiliates in Kansas City and Miami.

All remaining playoff games will be broadcast domestically as well as on other platforms, the league added. But the league defended the decision this weekend, saying it was “consistent” with the NFL’s longstanding policy of creating “as many ways as possible to meet our fans where they spend their time.”

“We understand that in the first few years after moving some games to digital-only platforms, our viewership will not reach broadcast levels, but we understand that just as the NFL at ESPN has grown into a giant platform since its debut in 1987 when cable was relatively young … We’re confident these steps will be a huge success,” NFL vice president of communications Alex Rithmiller told Business Insider.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Getty Images

The main antitrust problem is hidden here

As Ryan points out, Congress opened the door to this reality decades before streaming platforms were possible.

In 1961, lawmakers granted the NFL and other pro leagues an antitrust exemption that allowed the leagues to make deals directly with television networks on behalf of their teams.

As Sports Business Journal has previously detailed, this law fundamentally changed American sports. The congressional action also effectively ensured that for most of the fall, high school football games would be on Friday, college football would be on Saturday, and the NFL would close the slate on Sunday.

In recent years, lawmakers who have criticized the NFL for various reasons have threatened to exempt the league from antitrust.

The four major US sports leagues, the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL, are increasingly relying on streaming services to not only bring fans to out-of-market games, but also to create exclusive events that require a subscription to one or more of the respective leagues. broadcast partners. The massive shift comes as the nation’s television networks and cable channels spend more than billions of dollars to broadcast the games. NBC Sports reportedly pays the league more than $2 billion a year for NFL games.

According to Sportico, the NFL’s collective television rights alone are worth about $105 billion over the course of an 11-year deal with its partners, including NBC, which begins in 2023.

A representative for NBC Sports did not immediately respond to BI’s request for comment.

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