Could NFL Network’s RedZone Channel Ultimately Hurt the NFL?

Courtesy: NFL

Courtesy: NFL

When the NFL rolled out NFL RedZone a few years ago it was met with pretty much widespread applause from NFL fans. The chance for fans — especially those who have grown up on fantasy football — to never miss a score and never watch a commercial was enticing. Here we are a few years later and RedZone only has about four million total users, but it’s impact could soon be much bigger.

An article by Advertising Age notes that a committed viewer to RedZone would theoretically miss almost 39 hours of commercials during an NFL season. Of course not everyone will spend every single Sunday watching every single minute of NFL RedZone (or at least their doctor would probably tell them not to), but it’s still worth noting the possibility.

The NFL is the money-maker that it is because it commands billions of dollars from a handful of broadcast partners. Those partners then depend on ads to afford themselves to make such an investment in the NFL. While the above article rightfully notes that the networks probably aren’t too concerned with losing four millions viewers, how will they feel if that number triples or more in the next few years before future rights negotiations once again begin?

Some packages are safe. The Super Bowl will always be the biggest draw in America so long as football is king. Likewise, stand alone events such as Sunday Night Football and Monday Night Football don’t have to deal with eyeballs being lost to RedZone when no other games are on. But what about that Sunday afternoon game between the Browns and Jaguars that is on your regional telecast? Could ultimately the Sunday broadcast package be devalued if more and more users migrate away from CBS or FOX to RedZone as their primary source of football and fantasy news?

The NFL did a great thing introducing RedZone. In the coming decade though it will be interesting to see how they grow and monetize the product while still being able to make sure plenty of eyeballs are focused on the screens of their broadcast partners. If they don’t then they may find that their success actually hurt the league’s future earnings.

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