By Larry GLicken

Could We See NFL Games on YouTube in the Near Future?

Rumors have flown around like screen passes about National Football League games being screened on YouTube in the not too distant future. Although it’s true that there have been tentative talks between the league and Google, it seems that any positive result is far off. Sources from the website AllThingsD have stated that Google met with NFL chiefs on Tuesday, and are scheduled to have more talks.

The idea of streaming NFL games on YouTube has its appeal. Fans struggle to see NFL games unless they live locally, or have access to DirecTV’s “NFL Sunday Ticket.” Only on Sunday Ticket is it possible to catch every pass from every game on every Sunday. That’s something more of the public would like access to, which is why Google’s potential bid is so exciting.

However, chances nothing will come of the rumors, although Google CEO Larry Page met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, along with Robert Kyncl from YouTube. They discussed many topics, including highlights packages, exclusive content, and NFL Sunday Ticket.

Neither party has commented officially to any news sources, either through a statement or through their representatives. Meeting with companies from Silicon Valley is something the NFL does on a yearly basis, so this could just be one of those occasions.

Although the story may stall like a three-and-out drive, here are a few reasons why there could be the beginning of something very special:

The NFL’s $1 billion annual contract for NFL Sunday Ticket with DirecTV is coming to an end. Bidding will begin on Sunday Ticket soon. Companies such as Time Warner Cable, DISH Network, Verizon, AT&T and Google will ponder whether a bid for Sunday Ticket is worth it.

If a company can afford the figures being discussed for the new contract, it is Google. They have money to burn, and adding Sunday Ticket to their armory of coverage would be a coup. Not only would it give them a ton of coverage and attention, it would also shift the way football is watched in America and around the world.

The NFL’s only concern with Google: Leading consumers away from traditional TV. Streaming the football game with such internet connections such as Google Fiber and even dsl providers, are increasing in demand. With the NFL’s long contracts with CBS, FOX, ESPN and NBC for televised games, the last thing they want is for those companies to pay less for the rights they accrue.

Despite that downside, there are huge upsides for the NFL to partner with YouTube. Not only would having Sunday Ticket on YouTube give more people a chance to watch, it would also broaden the appeal of the NFL. YouTube would more than likely offer enticing packages to users, including free trials, in a bid to increase subscriptions.

This is not the first time Google has been linked to a megabucks bid for sports television rights. There were rumors a couple of years ago that Google was willing to pay a lot of money for the English Premier League soccer rights, and broadcast those games on YouTube. Nothing panned out, and NBC won the rights for the foreseeable future.

Time will tell whether this latest link between the NFL and Google is legitimate, or whether it is just wishful thinking on the part of the viewing public.

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