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Peacock deal leaves Colorado Springs sports bar scrambling

Kelly O'Brians spent big to air Dolphins-Chiefs Wild Card match up
Danielle Kelly OBrians.jpeg
Posted at 11:49 AM, Jan 15, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-15 14:19:54-05

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Fans of the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins who live outside of those two cities had to pay to watch their favorite teams in the Super Wild Card Round of the NFL playoffs Saturday.

A deal between the league and NBCUniversal granted the media conglomerate exclusive rights to air the game on its web streaming platform Peacock. The service costs $5.99 per month. An ad-free version is available at $11.99 per month.

The move caught the staff and owner of Kelly O'Brian's sports bar in Colorado Springs by surprise when the playoff schedule was announced last week.

“Every day of the last few days, we’re stuck in front of the computer or on the phone,” bartender Danielle Kempema-Rediger said.

The bar has worked hard to build up a customer base though it's commitment to airing every NFL game. The tables are covered in NFL helmets. Hand-painted team logos and NFL merchandise adorn the walls.

The bar pays roughly $4,000 a year to subscribe to DirecTV's Sunday NFL Ticket for licensing and programming to show the games on multiple TVs.

Dedicated Kansas City Chiefs fans have rewarded Kelly OBrians by frequenting the bar.

“We show all games, we do get groups for all teams," Kempema-Rediger said. "The Chiefs are the largest by far.”

Kempema-Rediger estimates the bar spent around $1,000 this week purchasing Roku web streaming devices and buying licensing agreements to air the game.

“We can really only show the game, legally, on three TVs," Kempema-Rediger explained. "You have to worry about licensing, that’s what UPshow is. I think a lot of people think they can just sign in to their home Peacock account and show the game. That’s not the case.”

Saturday marks the first time in league history that an NFL playoff game will be broadcast exclusively on a web streaming platform.

Brett Siegel, an assistant professor of Sports Communication at UCCS, called the move, "unique but unsurprising."

"I think you’re probably going to see a lot of this thing down the line,” Siegel said.

He sees this decision as a reflection of the way Americans consume television. Many households have dropped monthly cable and satellite subscriptions in favor of streaming channels creating the cord-cutting trend.

It's especially popular among younger Americans.

"The NFL in many ways is like the last bastion of kind of event television," Siegel said. "You watch it on your TV, you watch it live, you sit through commercials. It sort of upholds the whole enterprise that people are going to turn on their TV and watch this thing from beginning to end."

Amazon Plus subscribers have had access to Thursday Night Football games since 2022. Siegel said the ratings data from those games skews to a younger audience, which is what the league wants.

"It’s through streaming deals, it’s through getting the younger generation hooked, which is why you see these weird kind of like Nickelodeon and Toy Story-themed multi-casts, where they’re like, how do we get kids into the NFL kind of thing," Siegel said.

The same deal that gave Amazon exclusive rights to air Thursday Night Football also extended the league's partnership with the major broadcast networks through 2033. So, Siegel said viewers do not need to worry about all NFL games disappearing behind paywalls any time soon.

"They’re kind of gradually testing this out," he said. " I think doing it with one game this year is very intentional. I think it’s kind of like, let’s just see what happens.”

Meanwhile, Danielle at Kelly O'Brians said the stress of getting ready for this weekend will help them to be better prepared for next year.

“We’ve been scrambling throughout the last few days to become prepared and make sure we are there for our fans.”

Peacock deal leaves sports bar scrambling