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CBS chief says the network may stream live NFL games on its mobile app

While broadcast television has diminished significantly in the streaming age, it doesn’t look to be going anywhere soon as long as it has NFL games, which accounted for 26 of the 30 most watched television programs this fall. But a new report from The Hollywood Reporter offered signs that CBS may be preparing to loosen the broadcast TV chord a bit. During an appearance at UBS’ 42nd annual Global Media and Communications Conference, CBS CEO Les Moonves said the network could someday add NFL games to its digital subscription service, CBS All Access.

CBS launched All Access in October for $6 per month. The service provides online and mobile video-on-demand access to past CBS programming, as well as current shows a day after the original airdate. All Access also offers live streaming of local CBS Television programming in 14 markets including major markets like New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

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Judging by Moonves’ statements, the question isn’t if  NFL games will be added to All Access but when. “We currently do not have the NFL on (All Access),” Moonves said, “but once we add that, that could change the price point, or the NFL could share in some of that revenue.” CBS pays the NFL $1 billion a year to broadcast its games, not including the additional $275 million it paid to broadcast eight Thursday Night Football games for 2014. 

No one knows how many people subscribe to CBS All Access currently, and Moonves remarked at the conference that he will only reveal such data “when Netflix tells you how many people are watching House of Cards.” Basically, when TVs freeze over.

If CBS All Access does begin streaming NFL games on phones and other devices, it won’t be the first service to do so, but it may well be the most convenient. DirectTV streams NFL games on mobile devices through its NFL Sunday Ticket service, and recently offered the ability to purchase the service without a subscribing to DirectTV. However, viewers are only be eligible for the service if they meet specific guidelines, including restrictions for those who can “easily” get DirectTV’s full TV packages.

Verizon also has live NFL streaming as a part of its NFL Mobile app, which offers live streams of local Sunday games and primetime games every Thursday, Sunday, and Monday as part of its More Everything plan . But that may not be a viable option for those neck deep in an AT&T Family Plan, or more affordable packages from T-Mobile, or Sprint.

It’s highly likely that any deal struck to bring NFL games to CBS All Access will drive up the $6 subscription fee unless CBS works out a viable profit sharing plan with the golden goose that is the NFL. It’s all up in the air until the two parties sit down and talk, but for those looking for an easy way to get access to their favorite games on the go, it’s an exciting development. We’ll continue to follow this story as it evolves, so stay tuned.

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