NEWS ANALYSIS — Peacock’s distribution of the first-ever streaming-only NFL Super Wild Card Playoff Game on Jan. 13 between host (and reigning Super Bowl champion) Kansas City Chiefs and the Miami Dolphins at Arrowhead Stadium was the fourth-coldest NFL game in history and a blowout 26-7 win for the home team.
It was also a win for Peacock.
With Peacock paying a reported $110 million to the NFL for the rights (similar to Prime Video’s $100 million first-ever NFL Black Friday game last November), the streamer is expected to report record viewership despite reported technical issues affecting some viewers around the country.
Some viewers went to social media to complain about buffering and audio issues with the Peacock app, not unexpected when local ISP networks are inundated by excessive demand.
There were no TV streaming issues for this reporter, who appreciated being able to stop the live broadcast, rewind to previous plays, or to key highlight links selected by Peacock as the game transpired.
Speaking earlier this week on a media call, Rick Cordella, president of NBC Sports, said Peacock is not unfamiliar with streaming NBC Sports live events such as the Super Bowl, World Cup soccer, the Olympics, WrestleMania, Premier League soccer, in addition to “Sunday Night Football.”
In fact, with the exception of Cris Collinsworth’s absence in the broadcast booth, the entire “Sunday Night Football” team was in place for the Peacock event.
“This is not new territory for us, and I have confidence that our product and tech teams will deliver a great experience for the viewers Saturday evening,” Cordella said.
That didn’t stop U.S. House Rep. Pat Ryan (D-N.Y.) from blasting the NFL and NBC for what he said was a “greedy bait-and-switch scheme” that forced millions of fans to pay for “yet another streaming service” to watch a key playoff game.
In a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Cordella, Ryan demanded the game be made available on broadcast television (it was available on linear TV in local Kansas City and Miami markets), and pushed for Congress to review professional sports leagues’ long-standing antitrust exemption for broadcast agreements.
“It is absolutely ridiculous that my constituents, who already pay for NBC, have to pay even more to watch this game,” Ryan wrote in a press release. “How much more profit do Roger Goodell and NBC need to make at the expense of hard working Americans before they are satisfied?”
The politician said he is demanding the NFL and NBC stop “the BS” and offer all games to viewers who already pay for access, or Congress would re-examine the league’s antitrust exemption.
“The NFL raked in $12 billion in 2022; NBCUniversal made almost $40 billion,” Ryan wrote. “They now have a choice, either fix this problem, or we’ll fix it for them.”