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Antitrust Concerns Emerge as NBC Universal’s Streaming Dominance Grows

 |  January 15, 2024

The AFC wild-card playoff game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Miami Dolphins became the most-streamed event in the United States, drawing an average of 23 million viewers across various platforms, including the NBCUniversal streaming service Peacock, local NBC stations, and NFL+ on mobile devices. Despite the success of this streaming-exclusive broadcast, it has raised concerns about antitrust issues, as some argue that the move may have unfairly restricted access and imposed additional costs on viewers.

The Streaming Milestone:

The unprecedented success of the AFC wild-card playoff game, breaking records with 23 million viewers, marks a significant shift in the way audiences consume live sports content. The inclusion of streaming platforms has become a pivotal aspect of the modern media landscape, offering convenience and accessibility to a diverse audience.

Antitrust Concerns:

However, the celebration of this streaming milestone is accompanied by growing antitrust concerns. The decision to air the game exclusively on Peacock, NBCUniversal’s streaming service, has sparked criticism from some quarters. New York congressman Pat Ryan expressed his outrage over the requirement for viewers to pay for another streaming service to watch a game traditionally available on cable.

Related: NFL’s Exclusive Streaming of Playoff Game Raises Antitrust Concerns

In a scathing letter, Ryan questioned the need for additional profits at the expense of hardworking Americans, pointing out the antitrust exemption granted to the NFL in its broadcast deals. The exemption was originally intended to ensure fair competition and protect consumers, not to enable major broadcasters to restrict access and potentially exploit their market dominance.

Antitrust Exemption and Congressional Oversight:

Congress granted the NFL an antitrust exemption in its broadcast deals, expecting it to be used in the best interest of fans. However, as witnessed with the exclusive streaming deal between NBC and the NFL, concerns are emerging that the antitrust exemption is being exploited to the detriment of consumers.

The $110 million deal between NBC and the NFL to secure the rights to stream the wild card game on Peacock further underscores the financial motivations behind these decisions. Critics argue that such exclusive deals may create barriers to entry for competitors and limit consumer choice, ultimately giving major broadcasters and streaming services too much power.

Source: Finance Yahoo