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Roku launches “NFL Zone” on streaming devices, TV sets

The portal brings together live access to NFL games along with related programming for football fans.

The portal brings together live access to NFL games along with related programming for football fans.

The new "NFL Zone" experience is rolling out to Roku's line-up of streaming devices and connected TV sets. (Graphic by The Desk)
The new “NFL Zone” experience is rolling out to Roku’s line-up of streaming devices and connected TV sets. (Graphic by The Desk)

Streaming hardware platform Roku and the National Football League have teamed up on a new smart screen experience that aims to help football fans find live games and related programming on their Roku devices.

The “NFL Zone” lives within the Sports menu on Roku devices, and gives fans a single destination to find live and upcoming football games along with game highlights, interviews and other football-related content.

While NFL games are widely accessible on streaming platforms and services, the NFL Zone marks the first time the pro football league has teamed up with a TV-focused tech company on a streaming-focused portal.

Gidon Katz, the president of consumer experiences at Roku, said the new NFL Zone builds on Roku’s Sports portal that was launched last year to make it easier for streamers to watch that type of programming.

“As we start the biggest sports season of the year, providing easy access to NFL games and content to our millions of users is a top priority for us,” Katz said in a statement this week. “We look forward to fans immersing themselves within the NFL Zone and making it their destination to find NFL games.”

The NFL Zone on Roku devices aggregates live football games along with related content. (Graphic by The Desk)
The NFL Zone on Roku devices aggregates live football games along with related content. (Graphic by The Desk)

The NFL puts on more than a dozen games each week, with its 32 teams playing at least 17 games each season. Those games are primarily offered by CBS and Fox on Sunday afternoons and evenings, though select match-ups air in prime-time on NBC (Sunday Night Football), ESPN (Monday Night Football, occasionally simulcast on ABC) and Amazon’s Prime Video and Twitch (Thursday Night Football).

Keeping track of which games air on which channel can be tough to nail down each week. But streaming adds another layer of complexity, because most games are available across a number of different streaming services.

The NFL Zone on Roku aims to ease some of that confusion, by pointing streamers to the various services where games are offered. For Sunday afternoon games, the NFL Zone lists Fubo and DirecTV Stream as two apps where streamers can tune in; games aired on CBS also show Paramount Plus as an option, while “Sunday Night Football” on NBC list Peacock as another place to stream the game live.

While live football games are clearly intended to draw users in to the NFL Zone, the portal also offers a collection of game highlights, upcoming game previews and links to NFL Plus and the free, ad-supported NFL Channel.

“Sports have long provided a large, engaged audience for advertisers, and we’re excited to bring scale and fandom to marketers through the NFL Zone,” Hans Shroeder, the NFL’s executive vice president of media distribution, said in a statement. “With the launch of the NFL Zone, Roku users can easily find the games they want to watch, from one place. We are thrilled to provide our fans with an excellent option to follow their favorite teams all season long.”

The NFL Plus app is available through all supported Roku devices and smart TV sets, and offers access to regular-season game replays (but not live, in-market games, which are exclusive to the NFL Plus tablet and smartphone apps) and the NFL Films archive. A premium version of NFL Plus also provides access to NFL RedZone without a traditional cable or satellite subscription.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).