Brian Rolapp, NFL manager, told CNBC on Friday that the league's new blockbuster media deal provides an opportunity to enhance the viewing experience for fans through digital streaming.
The broadcast pact envisages Amazon Prime Video as the exclusive provider of Thursday Night Football games from 2023, the first fully digital package in the history of the league. Four other media rights holders – ViacomCBS, Fox, NBCUniversal parent company Comcast and ESPN owner Disney – can broadcast their respective games on their various streaming platforms.
"I think the [streaming] experience will be different," said Rolapp, the NFL's chief media and business officer, on Squawk Alley. "I think what they will be remains to be seen, but the underlying rights of these deals make for this type of innovation that I think we're excited about and that was really part of those discussions. Nobody just wanted to tell TV on the internet . "
ViacomCBS 'schedule can be broadcast on Paramount +, while NBC can use its Peacock service to stream its competitions. Fox's agreement allows him to display NFL content on Tubi, its ad-supported streaming platform. Disney, which also received the right to broadcast two Super Bowls on ABC, can simulate its games on ESPN +.
"I think with these partners you will see that they are taking advantage of all the different things that digital technology enables you," said Rolapp. "Interactive features could be developed. You can clearly change the advertising because once you have a digital platform the targeting and interactivity of that advertising can certainly change which you can't get on TV."
Rolapp said the deal – which CNBC estimates could be worth more than $ 100 billion – doesn't mean the end of linear television just because digital television has a greater focus. "If you look at this contract, I think we have all of our games assigned to television distribution in some form," he said, noting that Amazon's Thursday competitions will continue to be televised in the local markets of the playing teams.
"I think streaming will certainly have reach as people spend more and more time on digital. But if we get to the end of these deals and just put TV on the internet, we probably missed one." Opportunity, "said Rolapp of the new media agreements starting in 2023 and extending through the 2033 season.
Part of the NFL media rights that wasn't included in Thursday's announcement was DirecTV's Sunday ticket. AT&T currently owns DirecTV, but last month the company announced a contract with TPG to outsource it to a new entity along with its AT&T TV and U-Verse businesses. The existing Sunday ticket offer is valid until 2022.
When asked about the next steps for the Sunday Ticket, Rolapp said the NFL had seen "great interest" in acquiring the out-of-market package rights.
"It's a premium package for people who want to pay to get all of the games. It works well in a pay-TV environment, and I think it will work well in a pay-TV environment too," said he. He added, however, "The kind of custom kind, … the fact that the subscription lends itself very well to digital platforms and we believe Sunday Ticket has a very bright future, certainly in the digital space."
Figuring out exactly where that future will lie is "clearly the next thing we have to do".
Disclosure: Comcast owns NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC.