Last year when the NFL signed new broadcasting deals, they included a healthy package of digital distribution streaming rights for Disney (ESPN Plus), Amazon, NBCUniversal (Peacock), Fox (Tubi), and CBS (Paramount Plus). The deal between the NFL and Disney included one international game that will be exclusive to ESPN Plus streaming, starting with the 2022 season, and now they’ve announced that game will be the Broncos vs. Jaguars matchup in London on October 30th.
The ESPN Plus exclusive game is going to be an annual occurrence through 2033, but since it’s restricted to an international match, a 9AM game with the Jaguars playing looks like less of a draw for Disney’s streaming bundle than anything Star Wars or Marvel-related.
However, there is one thing that could change the potential of sports streaming more quickly than the development of Trevor Lawrence as a quarterback: gambling.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek has openly identified sports betting (along with gaming and, uh, the metaverse) as an opportunity for Disney, and a report last year from CNBC indicated it could be a way to build the value of ESPN Plus. That’s particularly interesting because while a traditional NFL schedule release event is planned for ESPN2 on May 12th at 8PM ET, on ESPN Plus the company plans to air Between the Lines, with breakdowns of the schedule from its sports betting show Daily Wager, as well as fantasy football commentators.