Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Exclusive Peacock NFL Playoff Game Is Reportedly a ‘Test Run'

For an organization that is technically not-for-profit, the NFL sure makes plenty of savvy business moves. Last week, the league made waves when it announced that it would air a wildcard playoff game exclusively on Peacock in the 2023 season, the first time ever an NFL playoff game would be offered only via streaming.

Jim Trotter, former president of the Pro Football Writers Association and current columnist at The Athletic, took to Twitter to share more insight into Peacock’s exclusive playoff game this year. Trotter spoke to a source who claimed the league views the game as a trial run for more streaming exclusives, and if it goes well it could continue selling playoff games to streamers at a higher price.

According to The Streamer, Trotter also said that the NFL is looking to increase its leverage over Amazon, which has been a tough negotiating partner. The league’s deal with Prime Video to stream “Thursday Night Football” games runs through the end of 2033, but NFL officials want a contingency plan in place if Amazon plays hardball in the next round of negotiations.

The information indicates that the pressure is on for NBCUniversal to turn in big numbers for its streaming-exclusive playoff game. Ratings for the game are certainly one of the data points the NFL will look most closely at when determining if its playoff matchup on Peacock was a success or not. Reporting from THR indicates that wildcard games following the 2022 season averaged 28.4 million viewers across six games, which would be a big ask for NBCU to deliver via streaming.

Data from NBCU’s parent company Xfinity indicates that “Sunday Night Football,” which is simulcast on NBC and Peacock every week of the regular season, crossed the 1 million viewer threshold on Peacock for the first time in the 2022 season. That’s an impressive number considering the games are also available on broadcast TV, but on streaming alone, that is certainly nowhere close to the average numbers the league normally sees for its playoff games.

It’s also not close to the number of viewers Prime Video was able to pull in for “TNF” this season. Thursday games averaged 9.6 million viewers per contest in 2022, which represented a 41% drop over 2021’s ratings. That was the last year “TNF” was available on national TV and on Prime Video simultaneously, which partially explains why the NFL is taking a walk-before-running approach to streaming-exclusive playoff games.

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