Wolk’s Week In Review: The NFL goes big, HBO goes free

TV[R]EV Week In Review

Well-known industry analyst Alan Wolk is publishing his popular Week In Review columns first on FierceVideo every Friday. This means that FierceVideo readers are the first to get all Wolk's insights as they navigate the fast-moving television business.

Wolk's Week In Review

1. The NFL goes big

The NFL, which is still counting on the 2020/2021 season happening, expanded the playoffs to 14 teams and announced that it would be streaming the extra wildcard games on NBCUniversal’s Peacock and CBS All Access along with broadcasting them on Telemundo and…Nickelodeon.

Why it matters

There are so many great SpongeBob jokes in the notion of the NFL on Nickelodeon. (Though personally I keep hearing Dora the Explorer chanting “Snap! Kick! Through the goal posts! Snap! Kick! Through the goal posts!” “Where are we going? End zone! Where are we going? End zone!”)

On a more macro level, the NFL is finally acknowledging that it has an age problem, that the average viewer is 50+ and that younger viewers are into things like esports and the sport the Europeans call “football” (soccer). And the league is seeing that parents are pulling their kids out of youth and high school football programs over fear of head injuries, which is also hurting the appeal of the NFL.

So, there’s that.

There’s also the question of whether CBS and NBC can pull off streaming the games. Amazon’s done it on Thursday night games, but live streaming isn’t simple and the playoffs will get many more viewers than Thursday Night Football.

Another question is whether the Nickelodeon game will do the NFL any good. Yes, they’re already getting a lot of publicity, but will they draw in new users or will the only kids who watch be kids who are already into football?

We’ll know soon enough.

What you need to do about it

If you’re CBS and NBC, test and double test your live streaming so it goes as seamlessly as possible.

If you’re the NFL, make sure you coordinate with Nick to get the best marketing possible and follow up on it—a single game won’t do you much good.

That, and think about what the advantages of having your games permanently on streaming services would be. It may be too soon for it right now, but in a year or two, that could be your move as more people will be watching streaming than live TV.

2. More free content

HBO joined Showtime and Sling in announcing that it will be letting viewers watch programs for free as everyone sits home during the Coronavirus Pandemic of 2020.

Why it matters

This seems like a no-brainer for companies in the TV industry and I’m not sure why more of them haven’t gone down this path.

HBO is offering up episodes of some of its most popular shows like “The Sopranos” to people who are stuck at home. Obviously, the hope is that they’ll like what they see and subscribe. Or subscribe when they have jobs again. But either way, the good will is being built.

Then, of course, there’s all the free publicity that comes…just before HBO Max launches next month. 

So, a doubly smart move on HBO’s part.

What you need to do about it

If you’re HBO, nicely done. Just make sure you promote this on social media and make sure people know about it. Because we could all use a break from the news.

If you’re one of the Flixes, you might want to follow in HBO’s footsteps. Especially given that you’re about to have increased competition. You don’t have to give the whole store away for free, but at least put out some free samples. It works for bakeries and candy stores, it will work for Flixes, too.

If you’re one of the FASTS, remind people that you’re always free. They might not be aware you exist and this is a good time to create some awareness.