The National Football League (NFL) is cooking up a new way for you to watch its Thursday night games.
The NFL is holding talks with several technology companies to offer them streaming rights to “Thursday Night Football,” Fortune has learned. A Bloomberg report, citing its own sources, claims that the NFL has discussed its plans with a wide range of companies, including Apple
. However, after believing the going rate was too high, those companies decided to walk away from the deal, the report says. Yahoo
, along with Verizon
, are likely to be the most “serious” about inking a deal with the NFL.
A source familiar with the situation told Fortune that the NFL is indeed shopping streaming rights and Yahoo is particularly interested in inking a deal with the league.
The move to offer weekly streaming rights on one of the NFL’s more important nights is indicative of the sports organization’s view of the future. While millions of people watched the Super Bowl on CBS on Sunday, an increasing number of people are “cutting the cord,” or canceling their cable or satellite subscriptions in favor of streaming services like Netflix
or Hulu, according to a report last year from research firm Magid Associates.
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A survey from video-discovery firm DigitalSmiths last summer found that approximately 8% of Americans had cut the cord, up from 7% in 2014.
The NFL has been one of the leaders in realizing that consumer habits are changing. Now more than ever, consumers are turning to smartphones and tablets to watch games, and as cord cutters grow in numbers, the NFL, which derives massive sums of cash from its broadcast deals with major networks, doesn’t want to be in a poor position as time goes on.
For now, the NFL has only dipped its toes in the streaming waters. The NFL has a deal with Verizon that allows the carrier to stream some games to wireless customers, but that’s mainly limited to smartphones. Meanwhile, the NFL allowed CBS to stream Sunday’s Super Bowl 50 on tablets. And in one of the more important deals yet, the NFL last year awarded Yahoo with the exclusive rights to stream its London game. Neither the NFL nor Yahoo said how much the company paid for those rights, but several reports suggest the fee exceeded $10 million and may have hit as high as $17 million—for a single game.
To stream weeks worth of games, therefore, may be quite pricey. According to Bloomberg’s sources, the NFL charges $45 million per game to broadcast Thursday Night Football games. While it’s unlikely that streaming rights would fetch the same amount, since the games would still be broadcast on networks, the NFL is likely seeking a large sum of cash from the tech companies.
For more, read: Your ultimate guide to streaming NFL football this season
The NFL’s executive vice president of media Brian Rolapp tipped his hand that streaming could be a core component in the organization’s plans in the coming years, telling Sports Illustrated last year that the NFL needs “to prepare for the future.” He added that while the NFL still sees television as “the dominant platform to distribute our games,” it’s no longer the “only platform.”
“We have cast our lot with TV through 2022, so obviously we believe in the power of television for our games,” he added. “But things are changing, and changing fast, in the media.”
Looking ahead, Bloomberg’s sources say that the Thursday Night Football streaming rights would be a short deal as the league tries out different ways to use new media to its advantage. For now, talks are in their preliminary stages, the report claims, but a deal could come down in March or sometime thereafter.
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The NFL and Yahoo declined to comment on the report. All other possible streaming partners did not immediately respond to a request for comment.