You won’t be able to catch the NFL Wild Card game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins on either network or cable television, and one lawmaker isn’t happy about it.
The Dolphins-Chiefs game will instead be broadcast exclusively on the Peacock streaming service. But House Rep. Pat Ryan, a democrat from New York, is calling the move “bait-and-switch BS” and demanding it be brought back on TV.
“Millions of loyal fans already pay for NBC,” he tweeted. “Let us watch the damn game!”
While NFL already lets some games stream exclusively — Amazon has secured the rights to Thursday Night Football for its Prime Video service, and YouTube offers NFL Sunday Ticket — the Wild Card game represents a high-profile playoff game that is sure to draw huge audiences. It also underscores how many sporting events are moving over to streaming, leading to some awkwardness and confusion for people trying to locate their favorite teams.
But NFL football is the holy grail of sports in the U.S., which inevitably invites a lot of skepticism.
Ryan argued that many consumers already pay cable fees to get their NBC broadcast, and paying for Peacock would represent a second, unnecessary charge.
“It’s a disgrace,” he said in a letter attached to the tweet. “Fans already face exorbitant prices to watch every game during the regular season; they don’t deserve to be squeezed by greedy corporations.”
He demanded that the NFL and NBC put the game on broadcast television and end “exclusive and exploitative streaming deals for good.”
The NFL noted that the Wild Card game will be broadcast on NBC in Kansas City and Miami.
“The NFL’s media strategy has been to make our games available in as many ways as possible to meet our fans where they spend their time,” said an NFL spokesperson. “As streaming video becomes commonplace, we are increasingly expanding the digital distribution of NFL content while continuing a longstanding policy that all NFL games be shown on free, over-the-air television in the markets of the participating teams.
“We understand that in the first few years of moving some games exclusively to digital platforms our viewership will likely not reach broadcast levels, but just as the NFL on ESPN grew into a huge platform following its debut in 1987 when cable was relatively young, we are confident these moves will be a tremendous success.”
A spokesperson for the NBC and Peacock pointed to the NFL comment.