YouTube’s first priority for the 2023 NFL season is simple: show the games it paid billions to broadcast without buffering or blackouts. But as we wind toward the first season of NFL Sunday Ticket as a YouTube property, the company says it’s making football broadcasts a little more native to the platform.
On Wednesday, YouTube announced a bunch of new features coming to Sunday Ticket this year. You’ll be able to see live chat and polls as you watch games, which seems guaranteed to be total chaos but in a way that will feel familiar to anyone who watches YouTube livestreams of any sort. And if you want to catch up on highlights, you’ll be able to do so through the Shorts tab: YouTube says that “real-time highlights from every single NFL game will be available in the Shorts player, right as the action is happening.” If a game is still going, you’ll be able to tap a “Live” icon and jump right into the game as it goes.
These are the sorts of features YouTube has been thinking about for a while. Pairing YouTube’s tools and ecosystem with NFL football, some of the most valuable and most frequently watched content on the planet, was the thing that made the Sunday Ticket package compelling to YouTube in the first place. “We’ve invested a lot there through second-screen type experiences, interactivity, hiding spoilers, et cetera,” YouTube head Neal Mohan told The Verge earlier this year.
There are also new ways to sign up for Sunday Ticket, including a way to pay the $349–$489 fee monthly instead of all at once and a (presumably cheaper) plan specifically for students. There are also new improvements to YouTube TV’s multi-view setup, which will allow you to watch several games at a time.
So far, we haven’t heard much about what creators will be able to do with this football footage, which Mohan also said is a big part of YouTube’s plans. But we know this: football is coming for every corner of YouTube, and every part of the platform also seems to be coming to your football Sundays.