Live-streaming games is the future of the NFL, Robert Kraft says

Patriots owner Robert Kraft sees live-streaming games as the NFL’s future. (AP)

Former commissioner Pete Rozelle was a visionary, and he saw that television could turn the NFL into a huge success. Or, more importantly, television money would make the NFL successful. Thanks to Rozelle, television revenue has been the backbone of the NFL for more than 50 years.

The landscape is changing. Increasingly, people watch shows and sports on devices other than their television. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft understands that. In an interview with the New York Post, Kraft said live-streaming games is the future of the NFL.

Verizon will stream the Jacksonville Jaguars-Baltimore Ravens game from London on Sept. 24. Yahoo streamed a Buffalo Bills-Jaguars game in 2015, with 33.6 million total views. Amazon paid $50 million for non-exclusive streaming rights (referred to as “over-the-top” streaming) to a 10-game “Thursday Night Football” package this season.

“The thing we have to be careful of is millennials,” Kraft told the New York Post. “They don’t watch TV, they don’t have TVs or subscribe to cable. So we have to bring that audience in. Partly it’s done through fantasy games and linking to that. Over-the-top is a great opportunity.”

Kraft said the NFL will be “very interested” to see how the games do on Amazon, because it will be on Amazon Prime, a subscriber service. The league is also interested to see more results from “OTT,” or “over-the-top” streaming, which is what it’s called when games are broadcast on television but also available via live stream. Twitter had a similar deal with the NFL for some Thursday night games last season. That’s clearly intriguing for the league because it’s an extra revenue stream on top of television money.

Many fans consume games from other leagues on their computer, tablet or phone as leagues have taken to streaming games online. In that way, the NFL has been behind. It’s catching up quickly, however.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!