The NFL’s shift to streaming: How to watch any and every NFL game in 2023
By: Sarah Kichula
September 20, 2023
Photo Credit: USA Today
On Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023, the NFL season returned in remarkable fashion as the Detroit Lions upset the reigning Super Bowl champions, the Kansas City Chiefs, in a thrilling 21-20 victory. The game was the NFL’s season opener, so as usual, it was aired on NBC and Peacock. However, most Thursday night games for Week 2 and beyond will be streamed on Amazon Prime Video, as was the case last season. This year, NFL games can be viewed on five different networks and six streaming services, making the league’s games more accessible, yet more difficult to navigate than ever before. To help you avoid confusion, I have taken it upon myself to break down the NFL’s broadcasting situation for the 2023 season.
Where We Started
Amazon Prime Video was the first streaming service to buy exclusive rights to NFL games, leaving fans who relied on cable with no other option for Thursday Night Football. The viewership for their first season was 25% lower than expected, but that statistic has not stopped other companies from copying Amazon’s idea, pouring billions of dollars to stream live sports of their own. The reasons for this trend? Firstly, while Amazon’s $11 billion deal spanning over the course of 11 seasons is not easy to project, especially only having completed the first year of the deal, industry experts are bullish on the deal’s return on investment for the mega-corporation. Secondly, other streaming services such as ESPN+, Paramount and Peacock have broadcast network counterparts, enabling them to air games on both cable and streaming platforms. Lastly, with the ongoing Hollywood strikes, broadcasting live sports has never been a more valuable form of revenue generation. As NFL commissioner Roger Goodell put it, “NFL content is the best reality television going.”
Where We Are Now
Here’s how to watch the NFL this season:
Amazon Prime Video still has exclusive rights for Thursday Night Football.
NBC and Peacock have Sunday Night Football.
ESPN, ABC and ESPN+ have Monday Night Football.
Most NFC and AFC games will be broadcasted on FOX and CBS, respectively.
While no one team is bound to one specific network anymore, certain networks have reached exclusive deals with each conference (FOX and the NFC, CBS and the AFC). This is because they still have appearance minimums to meet, so most games must air on their expected network.
Finally, NFL Sunday Ticket – a package that allows fans to watch out-of-market games – will be offered as an add-on through Youtube TV, after being carried on DirecTV since its start in 1994. While the subscription runs from $299 for YouTube TV subscribers to $399 for non-subscribers, students can get NFL Sunday Ticket for just a third of that price. With student verification, the total will come out to just $109 or $119 with access to the NFL RedZone channel.
Where We Are Going
With the rise of streaming services and an ever-increasing number of people “cutting-the-cord”, the NFL (and live sports at large) is one of the most crucial ways broadcast networks are able to maximize their viewership. As a result, many of these networks have invested in streaming counterparts to protect the future of their businesses. It will be interesting to see how fans react as they attempt to navigate between streaming and linear TV this season, but one thing is certain: millions of people will continue to pay to watch live NFL games, no matter how they choose to watch them.