Professional sports streaming is becoming more and more popular as leagues are looking to capitalize on that growing market. And broadcast stations -- so opposed to streaming for so long -- are finally getting on board.
What does this mean for sports bars and restaurants like yours?
For starters, it means more opportunities to offer more content to your guests and from varied sources. You're no longer limited to what's included in your cable packages.
Below are where you can expect to find NFL games streaming this season. Many are just TV stations dumping their broadcasts onto a web app, so you'll need to authenticate. Authenticating means you have to sign in using your cable or satellite long-in credentials. Don't forget that you can find out when every game is being aired with the SportsTV Guide.
Big news! Social media site Twitter purchased the streaming rights for the NFL's Thursday Night Football. At first glance, this sounds kinda like a bizarre marriage but Twitter is a popular forum for sports fans to gather, comment and commiserate. Perhaps it's a more natural partnership than most think.
CBS and NBC will also air their Thursday Night Football games online, but you don't need to authenticate via Twitter's stream like you do the two broadcast stations. What's also cool and different about Twitter's NFL stream is that it has game-related fan tweets running down the side of the screen.
The interactiveness of the stream is much higher. If you have multiple TVs on, you might as well have one tuned in to the Twitter stream and see how your guests react.
Monday Night Football will stream on WatchESPN, the sports broadcast station's streaming service, and the ESPN app. You'll have to authenticate to watch the game, however.
Unsurprisingly, the NFL Network will also be streaming games this year, including six Thursday Night Football games exclusively.
With the NFL Network stream, you'll be able to show Thursday Night Football on the tablet app (great idea for bars/restaurants with table-side tablets) and it's TV device app found on Apple TV, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4 and the NFL.com.
You'll need to authenticate, however, so if you don't already have the station you're a bit out of luck.
DirecTV's NFL Sunday Ticket
Like the NFL Network, you can also stream out of market games via DirecTV's NFL Sunday Ticket web streams and mobile app. You only need the basic package to do this, but if you want to also stream Red Zone or Fantasy Zone, you'll need the Sunday Ticket Max package. The NFL Sunday Ticket is also available through Apple TV.
CBS, NBC & Fox
You can find all CBS games simultaneously streaming on CBS.com and CBS's tablet app. But, of course, you need to be an "authenticated pay TV customer," meaning you need to login with your cable or satellite account. You're also limited to just your in-market games, which is a bummer for sports bars looking for a cheaper way to show games outside their region.
Fox will also be live-streaming their games. Like CBS you need to login via your cable/satellite provider.
The NBC has been airing Sunday Night Football for eight years now and while it used to be free to stream, you now need to login with your cable/satellite subscription.
All networks that hold broadcasting rights to their games also own streaming rights to those games on desktop, laptop and tablet computers (as explained above). It's worth seeing how the different stations display the games -- the stream feeds might have additional content (like Twitter) that your guests might be interested in.
Mobile phone streaming is a different ballgame. To stream any games on your phone you need to be a Verizon customer -- though this isn't a big deal for bars and restaurants.
How to Stream
So how can you stream these games? You have a few options:
- Game Console Apps. Go through the station's app on consoles like Xbox One & PlayStation 4. It's already connected to your TV, so it should play perfectly. While you're at it, you should host some eSports tournaments, too!
- Chromecast/Android TV. If you're using a web-app, you'll need to find a way of getting the game from your computer to your TV. Chromecast and Android TV will let you do just that and pretty simply, too.
- Amazon Fire Stick. Fire Stick might seem like a Chromecast device, but instead of streaming web pages that you're visiting, it gives you access to over 4,000 channels, including several sports stations -- WatchESPN, NFL Sunday Ticket, Fox Sports Go, CBS and NBC, for example. You'll still need subscriptions, so it's not a huge help if you're a cord-cutter restaurant.
- Apple TV. Like PlayStation and Xbox, you can find app versions of station's feeds on Apple TV. Additionally, you can use AirPlay from your mobile phone to your Apple TV set-top box (you also need to be a Verizon customer). You can also AirPlay from your Mac.
You can learn more about how to stream from different devices to your TV here.