Sunday, August 31, 2014

Do you have $300? You have almost enough to stream NFL games on phones and game consoles

Aaron Rodgers is really good at football. David Banks

The NFL and DirecTV have finally — finally! — wised up and decided to sell a package that lets anyone stream football games to their phones, tablets, and / or game consoles over the internet without requiring a full satellite TV package. You could get a code that allowed streaming last year if you pre-ordered the popular Madden NFL video game, but this year it's just wide open.

This is a huge deal that's the direct result of the NFL's explosive popularity in the market: DirecTV's exclusive rights to Sunday Ticket expire in 2015, and the company has hinted the rising cost of NFL exclusivity might be too high in the future — leading to rumors that Google is interested in streaming games on YouTube. DirecTV opening up an app like this is the first step towards locking people into a new online football experience before Google does it better.

Unfortunately, the demand for football is so insane that the new (terribly-named) NFLSUNDAYTICKET.TV service is super expensive: the basic package starts at $199 to stream games to phones and tablets, goes up to $239 to stream to the PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, or Xbox One, and skyrockets to $329 if you want both mobile devices and consoles.

That is stupid-expensive, fairly illogical (who thinks about streaming to consoles only like that?) and really only makes sense if you're an NFL executive hellbent on squeezing every last dime of profit out of the game before someone finally figures out that brain injury thing.

But it's still football, and football is wonderful and better than soccer. And you can still get it legally over the internet now, instead of begging your brother-in-law for his DirecTV password or searching for illegal Russian streaming sites that almost certainly steal your identity. That's progress. That's capitalism reacting to exploding demand by ruthlessly windowing and segmenting a product into ever-more-annoying chunks until you just pay the highest price to stop dealing with it.

That's America. Go Packers.

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