NFL Lost Millions of Viewers Broadcasting Dolphins-Chiefs Game on Peacock

Source: USA Today Sports/Jay Biggerstaff / Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Institutions like the NFL are constantly looking for ways to broaden their scope and bring in more viewers to an American national pastime. There are hundreds of thousands of families that structure their weekend around Saturday night football, but the NFL may have made a massive blunder by trying to widen their scope into streaming.

The Game on Peacock

The NFL’s decision to put this last Saturday’s matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins exclusively on Peacock may have hurt their ratings, and their reputation. While this is not a blow that the NFL as an institution cannot absorb for one game, it’s still a significant blow when considering the numbers.

Source: USA Today Sports/Danny Medley

The primetime game ordinarily would have brought in tens of millions of views, and therefore advertising dollars to the NFL. The choice to put the game exclusively on the Peacock streaming network was a business decision that was meant to boost Peacock’s subscriber base and bring different eyes to the NFL game.

Public Numbers

The NFL went public with their numbers after the fact, boasting that the Dolphins-Chiefs game had brought in a whopping 23 million views on the streaming service. While this may seem like a good number to bring in for a primetime, highly anticipated football game, the reality is a little more bleak.

Source: Kansas City Star

What the press release for the NFL doesn’t tell is the numbers that other games that were played around the same time reached. The hype around the Chiefs-Dolphins matchup was intense, so it makes sense that the NFL would focus on that particular game to brag about their numbers.

Other Games Did Better

The reality is that other games that were broadcast around the same time, but were on network television rather than an exclusive streaming service, brought in significantly more viewers than the NFL game did.

Source: X/@charlesgoodman

The Browns-Texans game brought in 29 million viewers, the Rams-Lions game brought in 36 million viewers, and the Packers-Lions game brought in a whopping 40 million views. These numbers are streaming and network combined, of course, but it is still a significant discrepancy.

Streaming is the Future of Television

A press statement from the NFL ahead of the game stated that they had chosen to stream the game exclusively on Peacock due to the hype around the game, as well as a belief in the power of streaming regarding the future of football and television.

Source: Arrowhead Pride

It’s understandable to see why that might be. ESPN is a subsidiary of Disney, and makes significant money for their parent company through streaming on ESPN+. While reaching Disney numbers is an unrealistic expectation, it makes sense that the NFL might want to cash in on the streaming boom.

Fans Were Unhappy

Unfortunately, the ploy seems to have backfired. Ahead of the game, fans were deeply unhappy with the statement that the NFL released about their plans for the game. After the fact, they were even more unhappy with how the NFL went about bragging about their numbers.

Source: Twitter/X/NFL_DovKleiman

Not only was the game on Peacock streamed exclusively, but the streaming platform charged viewers an additional fee in order to be able to watch the game live. This is similar to how Disney will release a new movie into theaters and onto Disney+ at the same time, charging an additional fee to watch the new release on streaming.

Peacock Was a Cash Grab

Many fans viewed this tactic from Peacock and the NFL as a cash grab, meant to exploit their viewers for the most amount of money. The NFL was granted an anti-trust exemption by Congress for their television rights, and fans felt that the league were pushing the boundaries of what the exemption granted.

Source: Twitter/X/awfulannouncing

More than that, it calls into question the future of national football and streaming as a whole. If the NFL is able to get around antitrust laws with one specific game simply because of the scope of their organization, then what does that mean for smaller networks in the future?

The NFL Lost Millions of Views

In addition to the angry fans, the numbers of the game do not lie. While NBC and the NFL bragged that the Chiefs-Dolphins game was the “most streamed event in streaming history,” the fact of the matter is that they would have gotten more views if they had stuck to the status quo and broadcast the game on network television.

Source: Twitter/X/JimmyTraina

In light of the numbers that other games that weekend reached, it’s entirely possible that the NFL and NBC missed out on up to 12 million viewers for the game, simply because they wanted to cash in on exclusivity rights.

Will the NFL Continue to Push Streaming?

In light of the potential loss, it will be interesting to see if the NFL and NBC will continue to push the streaming angle for primetime and anticipated games moving forward. The United States government might not step in to stop them from cashing in on streaming exclusivity, but the fans of the sport very well might.

Source: Twitter/X/FOS

The culture around football, ever since games started being broadcast on television networks, has relied on the massive reach of national networks such as CBS and NBC. Fans are used to this expectation and many of them are not going to want to change for the era of streaming, so it’s very uncertain where the NFL might go from here.

Making Money for the NFL

At the end of the day, organizations like the NFL and NBC are about making money. They want to be able to benefit from the broadcasting of football games, just like fans want the experience of going to a game and supporting a team that they love.

Source: USA Today Sports/Eric Canha

Requiring exclusivity of the streaming platforms and asking more from their fans might push too many people away to make the benefit worth it for the NFL. It’s possible that streaming might be the future of television, but after what happened with the Chiefs-Dolphins game, nobody is sure if football will be a part of the streaming revolution.

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James Cross

Written by James Cross

James Cross, an enigmatic writer from the historic city of Boston. James' writing delves into mysteries, true crime, and the unexplained, crafting compelling narratives that keep readers and viewers on the edge of their seats. His viral articles, blog posts, and documentary-style videos explore real-life enigmas and unsolved cases, inviting audiences to join the quest for answers. James' ability to turn real mysteries into shareable content has made him a sensation in the world of storytelling.

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