The rise of streaming services such as Peacock, ESPN+, and Amazon Prime in the NFL broadcast rights market has now reached its deepest point yet: paywalled playoff football.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Peacock will have exclusive rights to a Wild Card Weekend game this upcoming season, in a deal apparently in the range of $110 million.
NBC already carries a Wild Card game every year and simulcasts games on Peacock, but this is the very first time that any playoff game has been placed behind a streaming paywall. On Jan. 13, 2024, NBC will broadcast one matchup at 1:30 PM PT and then Peacock has exclusivity for the prime-time window at 5:15 PM PT.
This is not a long-term agreement but I don’t think we should fool ourselves into thinking this is anything other than a long-term plan by the NFL to have more regular and postseason matchups behind a subscription service, whether it’s Peacock or Paramount+ or ESPN+ or Amazon Prime or whatever else comes along. Consider this one-year deal as a “test the waters” situation.
If, hypothetically, the Seattle Seahawks reach the postseason but are in the Wild Card round, and they land behind the Peacock paywall, then the good news is local television markets (e.g. KING-5 in Seattle) will still carry the game as normal. Should the Seahawks clinch the No. 1 seed then we don’t have to worry at all. Otherwise, you have to subscribe to Peacock in the United States.