Sling TV, Twitter, YouTube, and now CBS All Access. The NFL and CBS just announced that CBS All Access subscribers can watch the network’s NFL broadcasts starting on Sunday, December 4 and continuing through the post-season—including Thursday night games. This is a multi-year deal, which means NFL on CBS will return to CBS All Access for the 2017 season beginning with the pre-season games.
There are also a few extra benefits for CBS All Access subscribers. Apparently subscribers will be able to “sample content” from NFL Game Pass beginning next season. Game Pass is the NFL’s subscription game streaming service, which is full featured outside of North America, but heavily restricted inside football’s heartland. It’s not clear what this “sample content” will be, but this could mean CBS All Access subscribers will get to see content from the NFL Network and RedZone. Both NFL-owned channels are part of Game Pass subscriptions.
Next season, the NFL on CBS may be available to All Access subscribers on NFL sites and apps as well.
And now for the bad news
So here’s the thing. This is not going to be wide open streaming, where you get to pick any game that CBS is broadcasting that day. You will only see the games that are broadcast by your local CBS station, and only if you get local CBS broadcasts as part of your All Access subscription. All Access currently offers local broadcasts in 150 markets across the U.S.
This restriction is pretty standard for live NFL streaming. Sling TV, for example, only offers local Sunday day games with Sling Blue.
The other issue is that you cannot use CBS All Access to stream NFL games on your phone. Verizon has an exclusive deal for the NFL on phones, and that’s not going to change with CBS All Access.
That said, you can watch CBS All Access' NFL games on pretty much anything else, including tablets (iPad, Android, Windows 10), consoles (Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4), TVs (Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Fire TV Stick), and PCs via the web.
Why this matters: Despite the NFL’s deep ties to television and restrictive broadcast deals, the league keeps working on ways to extend its reach into the digital realm. The CBS deal follows NFL’s agreement to stream games via Twitter and deals to bring the NFL Network and RedZone to Sling TV and PlayStation Vue. The NFL also recently rolled out a new virtual reality series on YouTube called NFL Immersed.