NFL Creates Digital Video Service With Microsoft Among Partners

The National Football League is creating a personalized video service to take advantage of what one of its executives called a “borderline insatiable” appetite for its content.

NFL Now will begin this summer, said Brian Rolapp, the league’s executive vice president of Media.

“The appetite for NFL content is borderline insatiable,” Rolapp said during a press conference in New York, across the Hudson River from where the league will stage its first outdoor, cold-weather Super Bowl on Feb. 2 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. “Mobile advertising is not the biggest revenue stream, but it certainly is the fastest growing.”

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ), Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO), and Proctor & Gamble Co. (PG)’s Gillette are initial launch partners for the digital service.

“The NFL has always focused on reaching as many fans as possible -- wherever they are,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said.

The NFL is the most-watched U.S. sports league, generating about $10 billion in annual revenue last season. According to the league, 205 million people tuned into games this past season, and 34 of the 35 most-watched shows in the fall season were NFL games.

“Our fans can’t get enough of our content,” said Jonathan Kraft, part owner of the New England Patriots and co-chair of the league’s Digital Media Committee. “More and more they are living their lives on a tablet, on a phone.”

The league said that 60 percent of digital consumption occurs from Tuesday-Saturday with the remaining 40 percent Sunday and Monday, when a majority of games are played.

Dual Revenue

The venture will be supported by a dual revenue stream, including advertising, Rolapp said. Additionally, while much of the content will be free, there will be a subscription component for premium content.

“What we hear from advertisers -- we want mobile, we want video,” Rolapp said.

Users can indicate their favorite team or fantasy players and the content stream will personalize each user’s feed. The content will be created by the NFL specifically for mobile devices instead of repackaged video from television broadcasts, Rolapp said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Scott Soshnick in New York at ssoshnick@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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