For First Time, NFL Playoff Game Is Behind a Paywall

Fans will need to have a Peacock subscription to watch Chiefs-Dolphins Saturday night
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 12, 2024 1:09 PM CST
For First Time, NFL Playoff Game Is Behind a Paywall
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is introduced prior to a game against the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday, Dec. 31, 2023 in Kansas City, Mo.   (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

The quarterback matchup between Miami's Tua Tagovailoa and Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes isn't the only major storyline going into their AFC wild card game. Another question is how many fans will pay to watch a game being carried exclusively on a streaming platform for the first time. Saturday night's game will be shown on Peacock after NBCUniversal won the rights last May, per the AP. The game will be broadcast on the NBC affiliates only in Kansas City and Miami, following the NFL's protocol for Thursday night games streamed on Amazon Prime Video.

Everyone else will have to pay for a Peacock subscription—plans start at $5.99 per month—to watch the game, and some fans are less than thrilled about the NFL putting a playoff game behind a paywall for the first time. But probably not the last: Under the NFL's contract, each of its four broadcast partners—NBC, CBS, Fox, and ESPN/ABC—gets at least one wild-card game. Of the two remaining games, one rotates each year between NBC, CBS, and Fox, while the other will likely be up for bid each year. That means Amazon or ESPN+ could eventually be in the running, too. According to various reports, NBCUniversal paid $110 million for the rights to the game. Typical sentiment:

  • "I mean, the NFL, which prints money—that's got more money than God—they gotta make another $110 million for that stupid Peacock game," commentator Chris Russo said on ESPN's First Take program. "So, the poor person who's 75 years of age, who's followed the Chiefs since (Hank) Stram and Len Dawson, has gotta figure out on his remote where to get the stupid game and pay for the streaming service to see a playoff game."
  • "Sure, having to pay six bucks to catch a single game (and then maybe a few episodes of The Office) isn't a grave injustice," writes Alan Siegel at the Ringer. "But pay-per-view football is impossible not to rail against. It's the kind of nakedly cynical concept that unites us all."
(More Peacock stories.)

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