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For the first time, an NFL playoff game will stream exclusively on Peacock

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The Miami Dolphins play the Kansas City Chiefs tomorrow in a wild card playoff game. But outside of those cities, fans won't be able to watch the game on TV for free.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Super Wild Card Weekend, where history is made. Now, for the first time ever, a playoff game will stream only on Peacock.

SHAPIRO: Like the ad says, first time ever - game will be streaming only on Peacock. Alan Siegel has been reporting on this for The Ringer. Hi, Alan.

ALAN SIEGEL: Hi. How are you?

SHAPIRO: I'm good - bit of a delay on your line, but we'll barrel through it. The NFL has shown regular season games on streaming services before, but this is a first for a playoff game. Do you think they're testing the waters for putting more playoff games behind the streaming services wall? Or is this likely to be a one-off?

SIEGEL: I definitely think this is the future. I'm not sure how many games or how many playoff games they will put on streaming. But if this one does well ratings-wise, I definitely think it will be done again.

SHAPIRO: The Ringer reported that NBC Universal paid $110 million for just this one game, presumably hoping to get a bunch of people to pay for new Peacock subscriptions. What have you heard from fans? Are they actually planning to sign up just for this game?

SIEGEL: They are not happy, first of all. And second of all, there's really no other choice. They're definitely going to sign up. There's just something about our sports teams that we can't live without. So if there are out-of-town fans from Miami and Kansas City, they're definitely going to sign up. I don't think they're very happy about it, but they definitely will sign up.

SHAPIRO: You say if there are out-of-town fans. I mean, fans in Miami and Kansas City can watch the game on regular TV. Is there a big enough fan base outside of the hometowns of these two teams to make it worth $110 million for one game?

SIEGEL: I think that's the thing about the NFL. It is absolutely the most national sport. And I think there are fan clubs for the Chiefs and the Dolphins all over the country. So I definitely think that there's enough interest to make it national.

SHAPIRO: But you also point out that there may be some fans who don't have smart TVs or even know what Peacock or streaming is. Is the NFL in danger of alienating some Luddite fans by showing big games only on streaming services that those people don't have?

SIEGEL: Absolutely. I mean, there are millions of fans who are 60, 70, 80 years old who I guarantee won't know where to find the game. Now, hopefully they have kids or younger generations of family members who can help them, but I guarantee there are going to be people who are mad this week.

SHAPIRO: All right. Do you see a future where, like, the Super Bowl could be streamed on a subscription-only service? Is that something fans should worry about coming up?

SIEGEL: I don't see it going that far right now, but money talks. If one of the broadcast partners that's a streamer wants to shell out the money to try to make that happen, I wouldn't quite rule it out, but I also don't see it in the immediate future.

SHAPIRO: Well, Alan Siegel, thank you for being our ambassador into this new era in football. That's The Ringer's Alan Siegel - good to talk to you.

SIEGEL: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Gabriel J. Sánchez
Gabriel J. Sánchez is a producer for NPR's All Things Considered. Sánchez identifies stories, books guests, and produces what you hear on air. Sánchez also directs All Things Considered on Saturdays and Sundays.
Kathryn Fox
Ari Shapiro
Ari Shapiro has been one of the hosts of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine, since 2015. During his first two years on the program, listenership to All Things Considered grew at an unprecedented rate, with more people tuning in during a typical quarter-hour than any other program on the radio.