The NFL is bringing classic games and more in-progress game highlights to YouTube

NFL games are coming to YouTube! Wait, don’t get too excited just yet – YouTube and the NFL have only announced a strategic partnership that’s bringing “classic” games to the video platform. Specifically, the NFL will post three of the greatest games from the history of each of the 32 franchises, it says. In other words, 96 historic games in total will be published to YouTube prior to the start of the 2016 season. In addition, the NFL will begin posting highlights to YouTube inside the game window.

The NFL’s content is especially popular on YouTube, and this new deal aims to capitalize on that audience. It’s one of many ways the NFL has been experimenting with expanding its social media footprint in recent months. The organization has also done deals with Snapchat for behind-the-scenes “Live Story” videos, and Twitter, which will live stream Thursday Night Football. 

According to the companies, the NFL’s YouTube channel has seen nearly 900 million views since its launch in 2015. Today, it carries game previews, in-game highlights, post-game recaps, plus clips with news, analysis, fantasy football advice, and other content.

Now the NFL has renewed its deal with YouTube for multiple years, and added full games to that channel, and more. It will also upload more game highlights while the games are in progress, for example.

These real-time clips will be available through Google Search, as well. The clips will appear at the top of the search results in a dedicated box when a user searches for the NFL team. In addition, Google Search will display other key information like the kickoff and broadcast times for the games.

This, perhaps, is just as notable as the plans to upload the historic games. Google search plays a key role when consumers are watching television, as users turn to their screens during breaks. In the past, it has offered real-time responses from candidates during Presidential debates, for instance.

It’s also potentially competitive with Twitter’s NFL deal, as those who watch the games on the big screen are just as likely to be using Google as their “second screen,” as they are likely to turn to Twitter. And despite the cord-cutting trend, watching sports on TV is one holdout from that shift (largely because of availability). The NFL says that 199 million people tuned into the 2015 NFL regular season, representing 78 percent of all television homes and 67 percent of potential viewers in the U.S.

“This expansion of our partnership will make it easier than ever for the millions of highly engaged avid and casual fans on YouTube and Google to discover and access an even greater variety of some of the most valuable content in the sports and entertainment business,” said Hans Schroeder, Senior Vice President, Media Strategy, Business Development, & Sales for the NFL, in a statement. “Our fans continue to demonstrate an insatiable appetite for NFL digital video content online.”

“YouTube has always been the home for sports highlights on the internet, and we look forward to giving football fans around the globe access to even more of the content they love,” added Jonathan Zepp, head of North America Direct Content Partnerships, YouTube.