3 Reasons to Like the NFL's Online Streaming Experiment

CBS Corporation (CBS) and DIRECTV (DTV) have largely been denied broadcasting rights to the Bills-Jags game

Mar 26, 2015 at 12:09 PM
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The NFL made headlines earlier this week when it announced the 2015 season will feature the first-ever game streamed strictly online. Participating in the historic matchup are the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars, with the contest to be played in London on Sunday, Oct. 25.

Of course, there is one exception to the all-digital broadcast. CBS Corporation (NYSE:CBS) will still have TV broadcasting rights in the teams' home markets. So if you live in Buffalo or Jacksonville, you can tune in on your flat screen. However, DIRECTV (NASDAQ:DTV) has been entirely locked out of the deal, meaning the Bills-Jags tilt won't be shown on NFL Sunday Ticket.

To most, the matchup leaves something to be desired. The Jacksonville Jaguars are perhaps the worst franchise in the NFL. For years, the team tarped thousands of seats it wasn't able to sell for home games -- a necessity to avoid regional blackouts, triggered by low attendance. Eventually, Jags ownership had a stroke of genius, and decided to convert 9,500 seats to pools and cabanas to reduce the number of people required to fill EverBank Field.

The Buffalo Bills, meanwhile, haven't made the playoffs in 15 years. No other current NFL squad has suffered such a long drought.

Regardless, I have several reasons to be really excited about this game. For one, I don't own a TV, so it doesn't matter if CBS and DTV go AWOL. In fact, I already watch NFL games almost exclusively online -- every Monday morning, via NFL Game Rewind. So whether the league sells online broadcasting rights to Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), YouTube, or some other Internet company -- the details haven't been worked out yet -- matters little. Internet broadcasting is the future, so this is a positive step for the NFL.

Second -- and full disclosure here -- I'm a Bills fan. And this is actually a game the Bills should win. Heading into the season, the team is solid at almost every position, save quarterback. But against the Jaguars -- whose starter Blake Bortles posted an anemic 69.5 passer rating last year -- the position's a wash.

Bills Jaguars Game Online

Finally, this will be a revenge game between Buffalo and former head coach Doug Marrone. In case you missed it, Marrone opted out of his contract with the Bills after two seasons -- presumably seeking greener pastures elsewhere. After weeks of waiting, he ended up as the "Assistant Head Coach-Offense/Offensive Line Coach" of a 3-13 Jaguars team, reporting to a guy named Gus Bradley.

So while football purists moan and groan about the changing of the NFL, and others lament the international spotlight being shined on two league laughingstocks, I plan on cheering my Bills to victory. And watching Doug Marrone lose.


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