Thursday Night Football lives on Amazon. Peacock exclusively aired a playoff game. It feels like streaming is coming for all of us, even if we'd prefer to drag our feet and fight like hell against the eventuality. Canary-in-coal-mine events are adding up and it doesn't take much imagination to envision a world where the Super Bowl moves off of traditional broadcast and onto a subscription platform. Former ESPN president John Skipper has been pushing this idea for some time now and others have joined in after reading some of the 96-point font on the wall. The NFL's current rights deal runs through 2032 so even the most aggressive push would mean that such an earth-shaking event is still several years down the road.
So it is a bit curious to see those who have no interest in logging on to check out the Big Game take a bit of a victory lap after Roger Goodell's comments on the issue last night at Super Bowl LVIII's opening night.
“Certainly not in my time,” said Goodell when asked by CBS' Tracy Wolfson about the possibility. "One of the secrets of our success is we are really committed to broadcast television. Ninety percent of our games are on broadcast television. I think it’s the reason why you will see over 200 million people watch this game here in the United States, because it’s on broadcast television and the broadest possible platform. We’ll see Super Bowl continue to be on the broadest possible platform, and I think we’ll continue to see the NFL on the broadest possible platform."
That makes sense. Huzzah for business. If the bar is the broadest possible platform, it seems like the status quo is pretty safe and secure.
On the other hand, Goodell's deal ends in March 2027. Which means that "his time" only extends to the next three Super Bowls. It can always be extended and if we're taking bets, we'll throw a significant amount of money that it is extended. Last fall the NFL announced a three-year extension for Goodell so if that happens again he'll be holding court on Park Avenue through 2030. At that point the commissioner would be 71 years-old.
It's really hard if not impossible to find anyone who believes a streaming Super Bowl will happen in the next five years anyway so we're not entirely sure we learned anything or Goodell was saying anything of real substance. And kudos to him as his entire performance last night showed just how skilled he is at answering questions without giving away too much. Say what you want about him but he's extraordinarily good at his job and serving the interests that need to be served. Not even a backhanded compliment. It is quite impressive.
This question is going to linger.