New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft recently told interviewers that he believes streaming is the future of the National Football League (NFL). Kraft made the comments while speaking at the 2017 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, a conference which brings together some of the most important figures in media, communications, and digital innovation. Kraft referred to statistics which show that most millennials are cutting the cable or even avoiding televisions altogether, forcing many industries to have to find ways to adapt to the shifting media landscape.
In an interview with Martin Sorrell, CEO of the British advertising firm WPP Group, Kraft said that internet-based streaming services, also called over-the-top (OTT) services, will be the future of the NFL in light of the paradigm changes media industries currently find themselves experiencing:
There has been a dramatic shift. This year we’re with Amazon and for us the future is OTT. We’ll be very interested to see how Amazon goes as it’s behind the paywall. The thing we have to be careful of is millennials. They don’t watch TV, they don’t have TVs or subscribe to cable. So we have to bring that audience in. Partly it’s done through fantasy games and linking to that. Over-the-top is a great opportunity.
The NFL recently signed historic deals to stream some of its Thursday night games on Amazon Prime, and Hulu’s live TV service expanding its local market coverage to allow for some live streams of NFL games where available. Twitter and Major League Baseball have signed similar agreements to stream games directly to Twitter. Sports still remain one of the biggest reasons many cable subscribers haven’t yet cut the cord, but recent deals show that many sports leagues realize the future of all broadcast video will soon be streaming. If other leagues don’t get on board fast, they might find themselves left behind.