CBS Corp. will offer unauthenticated streaming access to two NFL regular season games this season, taking the pay-TV ecosystem's most expensive programming asset over the top.
CBS said it will stream the Oct. 4 game between the Carolina Panthers and Miami Dolphins, as well as the Nov. 26 matchup between the Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys, both of which were playoff teams last season.
The announcement expands on CBS' already announced plans to stream the AFC Conference playoffs, as well as the Super Bowl.
This isn't the first time NFL games have been streamed on the Internet. Fox has streamed more than 100 games, but that has been via TV Everywhere authentication. And Yahoo is offering up an unauthenticated stream of the Oct. 25 game in London between the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars. Yahoo is paying a reported $20 million for the broadcast rights to that game.
CBS is paying more than $1 billion a season through 2022 for NFL rights. Other media companies and pay-TV operators are paying even more for rights to show NFL games. DirecTV (NYSE: T), for example, is now paying nearly $1.4 billion a season for the rights to show its NFL Sunday Ticket package.
The NFL will likely expand its viewership and advertising reach by streaming some of its games for free to Internet users. However, unauthenticated streaming of such a popular programming asset will certainly come up in the NFL's broadcast retransmission negotiations with pay-TV operators.
CBS is currently the most aggressive seeker of retransmission revenue; it is looking to grow its annual retrans haul to $2 billion by 2020.
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