The National Football League (NFL) has announced a content partnership with Break.com. The online video site has launched an NFL.com branded channel, featuring content available on the NFL.com website. Along with news, statistical analysis and fantasy football advice, Break.com will also feature videos of player interviews and highlights from recent games. Absent from the offering, however, is access to full-length games available via catch-up or live streaming.
Break.com, which is one of the few UGC sites that still commands a reasonable share of traffic following the rise of YouTube, has similar content deals with the National Hockey League and the National Basketball Association. The NFL deal gives the male-focused site a one up on the Google-owned giant which lacks content from the football league.
The NFL.com channel appears to be a straight forward content deal, with Break licensing NFL content and leveraging its own online video advertising network. Not surprising, is the omission of online live-streaming or catch-up access to full NFL games, which for the most part still remains firmly the preserve of traditional television or behind a pay-wall (see NFL launches online subscription for preseason fixtures).
The deal is one of the first deals that the NFL has done to extensively allow clips and highlights to appear on a third party site that is not directly affiliated with the TV broadcast of football. Historically the league has tried to keep a very tight lid on how its games were reported online even trying to restrict the images and video used by journalists. In 2007 the league issued a set of rules restricting the pictures and video that journalists could use online. These rules were subsequently softened for the NFL's broadcast partners but the league has no deal in place with YouTube, and the likes of Yahoo still rely on talking heads, rather than actual footage, for the majority of their sports coverage.
Beyond clips, the NFL continues to take a conservative approach to making its content available for live streaming, in comparison with the likes of the MLB, NHL and NBA. The NBA, for example, has offered live streaming of out-of-market regular season games directly on its website through its 'NBA League Pass Broadband' subscription service, since October of 2008. While for in-market games, some NBA teams, notably the Portland Trailblazers, have partnered with regional sports networks to promote online VoD and live streaming within a 150-mile broadcast radius.