Cable Companies Would Hate a Google – NFL Partnership (GOOG)
If you haven’t heard, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and the NFL are in some form of communication regarding the NFL Sunday Ticket rights that will be up for grabs beginning with the 2015 NFL season.
At this point, the story isn’t so much about Google or the NFL. It’s about something much bigger that has to have cable companies very nervous.
The media has made a big deal of a story that isn’t much of one—at least right now. According to AllThingsD, the NFL and Google are engaging in “informal talks” that could potentially bring the NFL’s Sunday Ticket package to YouTube. If you’re not a hard-core football fan, the Sunday Ticket, in its current form allows fans to view out of market games produced by Fox (NASDAQ: FOXA) and CBS (NYSE: CBS).
According to the story, the NFL is meeting with multiple Silicon Valley companies on a range of topics—the Sunday Ticket being only one. Contrary to the attention its receiving from the media, it’s not much of a story especially given the fact that DirecTV is reported to be ready to fight to keep the rights.
The real story in this is bigger than the NFL or Google. First, we’re seeing evidence that the sports world, which hasn’t been quick to adopt new media strategies, is ready for change and appears to see the need to adopt new formats to attract the next generation of viewers.
During the PGA Championship, we reported that Fox Sports would broadcast the U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open, and the U.S. Senior Open from 2015 to 2026. Fox has never televised a golf event but what seemed to sway the United States Golf Association was the idea that Fox would bring a fresh perspective to the events.
But this deal would be even more disruptive and cable companies would hate it. With the Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) versus CBS war still showing no signs of a resolution, there’s concern that the deadlock could continue into the NFL season.
This would be disastrous for CBS and the NFL. Even now, watching the events unfold (or not unfold), the NFL has to be thinking that it’s time to consider new ideas. Google has more than enough cash on hand to not only buy the rights but also build out a robust infrastructure. The Chromecast could put the NFL on the TV sets of every broadband customer furthering the “cord-cutting” push that cable companies fear.
Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) is producing award-winning content, Google wants a piece of the NFL, and don’t be surprised if Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) doesn’t get it on a deal like this. Bottom line—there’s more than enough cash in the bank accounts of these companies to make cord cutting a reality and the more deals like these happen, the less we’ll all need traditional cable.
Disclosure: At the time of this writing, Tim Parker was long Apple.
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