Want to catch that coveted Titans vs. Jaguars tilt this season (humor me and pretend you do)? Well, chances are you’re not going to get that chance unless you’re in a very specific regional market such as Nashville or central Florida. Or at least that was the case before this season.
This year though, CBS has announced that they will be streaming all CBS broadcast games — from the regular season to the playoffs to Super Bowl 50 — on their website. But not only will those games be free, they’ll be available to anyone and everyone.
As many people know by now, typically in order to stream a show or event, you must have either a subscription (such as with Netflix, Hulu, and HBO), or have the proper cable login credentials (such as with ESPN3’s stream of live events). Neither will be necessary for CBS’s broadcast though. Not only will the streams be free to standard cable subscribers, but the streams will also be free to cord-cutters and those without network television.
Presumably CBS isn’t doing this out of the good of their heart, but rather this is a test run for potentially “bigger and better things” in the future. The data CBS collects in terms of online viewership will give them a good idea of just how many out-of-market viewers, cord-cutters, and mobile travelers are interested in using the service.
Using that data it’s hard to imagine that CBS won’t then make a decision on how heavy to invest in and push the streaming service in the future. It also will help CBS put a value on the service, and ultimately a price point they want to charge those who stream the games. Interested in a year of CBS football games? Next year it might cost you $1.99 a game, or perhaps $4.99 a month. Only time will tell. After all, there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and there’s ultimately going to be no such thing as a free football game either.
Perhaps I’m ultimately proven wrong, and if so it won’t be the first time. But I’d enjoy the free streaming NFL games while you can, because they may not last long.