Days prior to Super Bowl kickoff, the NFL has launched its first official YouTube channel after having fiercely limited digital video distribution to its own website -- and those of its broadcast partners -- for years.
The channel, at YouTube.com/NFL, will feature game previews, highlights, recaps, news, analysis, fantasy football advice and a slew of Super Bowl programming slated for the next several weeks.
However, the clips will still urge viewers to tune into the NFL on TV, and unlike most YouTube videos, the NFL will not allow them to be embedded onto other sites.
The deal calls for Google (which owns YouTube) to pay the NFL a multimillion-dollar annual fee to host the channel, The Wall Street Journal reports. Google will handle ad sales and split revenue with the league once it recoups the annual fee. As part of the agreement, NFL video content will also show up prominently in Google searches.
Last month, the NFL inked a pact for content distribution with Facebook, which is making an aggressive push to compete with YouTube in the increasingly lucrative online video space. As part of that deal, Verizon Wireless sponsored NFL clips on Facebook news feeds, with Facebook and the NFL sharing the ad revenues.
While YouTube counts partnerships with the three other major American sports leagues -- the MLB, NBA and NHL -- until now, the NFL had actively sought to take down any videos that had been published on YouTube illegally using a copyright tool furnished by the platform called Content ID.
Notably, the new NFL YouTube channel will feature neither archival footage (which is being saved for the NFL’s paid subscription service NFL Now) nor live games. But YouTube says the technology is there should the league change its mind.
"We would welcome it with open arms if the NFL or any other league" wanted to show live games on the site, YouTube spokesman Matt McLernon told ESPN.