The NFL just got a lot closer to its legion of feverish fans, as the much anticipated service, NFL Now, launched Wednesday on select devices. Designed as a personalized online video distribution service to bring hungry fans news, highlights, analysis, and more from their favorite teams and players, the free service dropped just as the NFL pre-season has begun to ramp up towards the regular season kickoff on September 4th.
The service will be accessible from a veritable mountain of platforms and distribution partners, including iPhones, iPads, and Android mobile devices, Windows Phone 8 and Surface tablets, Xbox, Roku, Amazon FireTV, Yahoo services like Yahoo Sports, and Yahoo screen, and the NFL Now website. As was recently announced, it’s also slated to arrive on the AppleTV in the near future, and may branch out even further, with rumors of a Google Chromecast launch in the works.
As most NFL followers might guess, the multi-billion dollar industry is not offering access to live NFL games over the service – that golden goose is simply too lucrative to let out of its cage for free. However, the service does have some very enticing hooks to sink into the football faithful, including “the largest digital library of NFL video anywhere,” as well as a customization engine designed to grow over time as it learns your own viewing preferences to offer dynamic personalization for each fan’s favorite team and players. Live press conferences before and after games will also be featured prominently.
In addition, the service will (of course) offer a premium version called NFL Plus, which will cost $2 a month. Upgrading to NFL Plus will grant viewers even more access to the NFL content vault, including instant in-game highlights from every game, a customized stream personalized for favorite teams, players, or fantasy rosters, and access to NFL Films shows and documentaries “from America’s Game to A Football Life.”
And just in case you thought NFL Now would be simply rehashing feeds from the NFL Network, or other sports affiliates, think again. While the service will lean on other NFL properties, Wednesday’s announcement also promised original news and annalysis, making up what it described as “a truckload of original programming taped in our fancy new NFL NOW studios.”
Of course, there is no substitute for live games, and cord-cutters unwilling to shell out for the outrageously expensive NFL Sunday Ticket (be it from DirecTV or the new stand alone service) or other satellite and cable subscriptions are still left behind when it comes to getting the whole enchilada from kickoff to post game. Still, considering the rabid pace at which NFL fans already consume video highlights, news, and every last morsel of football minutia that blows through the winds of social media, the service is sure to be a success right out of the gate.