Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

The NFL Gets a Better Grip on Digital With a New Mobile App

You should definitely watch NFL games on a big high-def TV this fall.

But if you can’t get in front of one, you will want to use the NFL’s new mobile app, out today for iOS, Android Windows and BlackBerry.

NFL Mobile does the work that was previously spread out between two apps — an NFL-built “cross carrier” app that provided scores, highlight clips and other goodies; and a Verizon-made app that gave the telco’s subscribers the chance to watch live games.

Why are we writing about this? Because the backstory is interesting here: By consolidating the two apps, the NFL is also taking more control over its digital experience. Now, if you watch a live NFL game on your phone, you’ll be dealing directly with the league instead of going through Verizon, even though Verizon retains control of NFL mobile rights.

And that move is happening as Brian Rolapp, who used to oversee digital for NFL Media as part of his chief operating officer job, ascends to the CEO title. So keep an eye on the league for more interesting digital developments down the line.

Of course, because this is about TV and sports and digital and mobile, there is all kinds of fine print involved here. Those of you who care about digital sports rights, and/or really do intend to watch “Monday Night Football” on your iPhone, can read on:

  • NFL Mobile is free, and so are features like video clips, news and scores.
  • If you’re a Verizon mobile customer, you can also watch full games on your phone, for a $5 monthly fee. That will also get you access to the NFL Network and the NFL RedZone scoreapalooza smorgasbord.
  • But even if you pay, you can only watch a minority of NFL games: The Sunday night game that NBC airs, the Monday night game that ESPN airs and the Thursday night games that the NFL Network airs. Everything else — the Sunday afternoon games that make up the bulk of the season — belongs to CBS and Fox, and those guys have exclusives for mobile this season.
  • NFL Mobile will also work on tablets, but in that case, it’s a different set of rights: Certain pay TV subscribers, like Time Warner Cable customers, will get “authenticated” access to NFL RedZone and the NFL Network (including the Thursday night games) for free. But no NBC or ESPN games.

Got all of that? Cool. Except that all of these rights get reshuffled next year.

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— Gitesh Pandya of comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”