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Sports, especially the National Football League, play an important role in depicting the future of entertainment on the Internet.
Maybe you think this is crazy. But Edmund Lee, a media reporter for the New York Times, said we should pay attention to the current negotiations about where Americans will see football games in the years to come. They can determine which television companies will thrive in the digital age and provide a glimpse of the types of programming that will dominate our favorite websites.
For conventional television companies like Disney and CBS, the NFL is essential to keeping television viewers from shrinking too quickly and to support their future in streaming. And internet stars like Amazon and Facebook could – maybe? – want big ticket sports for themselves.
Shira: Why is the NFL so important?
Ed: Fewer Americans watch sports, but soccer is still by far the most popular television program. The NFL needs television, and television station owners need the NFL. And whether you watch football or not, the billions of dollars television networks pay for the NFL mean higher bills for cable or satellite TV or online TV packages like YouTube TV.
TV networks hate paying so much to broadcast the NFL to shrinking audiences. But you say they might pay twice as much in the next contract. Why?
It’s a complicated dance. Disney, Fox, CBS, NBC, and others are trying to become streaming video companies. But they are still losing money streaming and making billions of dollars in profits on conventional television.
If television stations can make NFL games available to watch on TV and on their streaming services, they hope that viewers will stick with television and become involved in the streaming services.
Are you saying that sports, and the NFL in particular, are critical to whether entertainment businesses live or die?
Yes already! I will give you a personal example. English Premier League football matches are one of the few things I see regularly on Peacock, NBC’s streaming video service. Sports, especially live sports and especially the NFL, are still a huge asset. The entertainment companies that have must-see programming will make the transition to streaming.
There are billions of people on YouTube and Facebook. Why aren’t there major sports like the Olympics, European football and the NFL?
Experiments were carried out. Facebook has streamed some professional baseball games and Indian cricket games live. Amazon’s Prime Video airs a handful of NFL games on Thursdays, and Amazon appears ready to pay for more games.
But the reality is that sports on these big sites is only part of the programming in an ocean. When there are games on these big tech websites, fewer people are watching.
Maybe people are not in the habit of watching sports there. When an NFL game is broadcast on Amazon Prime Video and on cable TV at the same time, many millions of people watch TV, but only a few hundred thousand on Amazon.
I was surprised that sporting events on Amazon or Facebook are not very internet-like. It’s mostly the same as a TV show.
Watch what the National Basketball Association is doing. It has started to incorporate digital features like stats displayed in games and different camera angles into the NBA app. Internet use of sport is not there yet. But whatever the NBA does is likely to be largely copied.
Who will win the internet: professionals or amateurs?
One point Ed made in our conversation is that Facebook has changed its mind about the wisdom of getting on the trail of Netflix or Disney and paying the highest price for professional entertainment like the hugely popular NFL games.
Why pay billions a year for soccer or Martin Scorsese films for Facebook? The company is already making us spend hours surfing the newsfeed and Instagram, with posts and videos, most of which we create for free.
But I should mention that until relatively recently, Facebook was keen to play live sports. Maybe the company will change its mind. Once again.
This was one of the original questions about online leisure time: will professionally made entertainment, including sports, win, or will the websites and apps be filled with amateurs?
The reality is likely that a mix of the two will rule the internet, but it’s fun to investigate.
There are two basic paths to the online video hangouts that we love. Some of them mostly draw people with things that normal people do – think TikTok, Facebook, and YouTube.
Others like Netflix and the major television entertainment companies’ streaming video services offer the same thing as the well-kept programming you see on TV.
These two paths become blurred. Professional internet stars do some of the most popular things on sites like YouTube. Facebook pays for the video programming on its TV-like hub called Watch.
A big advantage of the amateur trail is that it’s cheap. TikTok and Facebook pay nothing for most of the videos or posts we surf for hours. YouTube shares the advertising money it makes with lots of people who make videos, but it doesn’t give out Scorsese type money to make PewDiePie a star.
At the same time, Ed said, Internet companies see the merits of professional entertainment. Netflix and HBO Max aren’t concerned about QAnon conspiracy theories going viral as the companies control everything that appears on their streaming services. The downside is that it costs a lot. The advantage is that it produces fewer horror shows.
Before we go …
The Impact of Amazon’s Payment Practices: The company’s decision to increase its starting employee salary to $ 15 an hour appears to have driven wages up other companies near Amazon locations, my colleagues Ben Casselman and Jim Tankersley reported.
The online consequences of the coup: Reuters reported that Myanmar soldiers and police officers are using TikTok to threaten violence against protesters who oppose the recent coup. Usage of the app increased sharply in Myanmar after the military blocked Facebook. And YouTube followed Facebook to remove video channels operated by Myanmar’s military, reported my colleague Paul Mozur.
You want to share the wealth: My colleague Taylor Lorenz wrote about a newly created collective for people interested in audio chat room apps like Clubhouse. They want to campaign with the company for more monitoring of their apps and more ways to turn their popularity into income.
Related: Geier has a fascinating article on Trisha Paytas, a YouTube celebrity whose genius is essentially about being charismatic and paying homage to controversy. (Note that the item has photos that may not be safe for work or young children.)
Check out the newborn gorilla in a zoo in Berlin!
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