Long thought to be one of the linchpins of the cable bundle, the National Football League has acknowledged that it needs to appeal to a wider audience of consumers by going over-the-top (OTT) and bringing in consumers who want to watch the games via the Internet.

As part of the announcement to bring Thursday Night Football to both CBS  and Comcast’s NBC, the country’s most popular sports league said Monday it was “is in active discussions with prospective digital partners for OTT streaming rights to Thursday Night Football,” with a deal “expected in the near future.”

Most companies out there, whether they’re dependent on advertising revenue or looking to sell additional hardware, would likely jump at the chance to host NFL games.

Here are some of the more likely educated choices:

  1. YouTube
  2. Yahoo
  3. Facebook
  4. IBM
  5. Apple
  6. Hulu

I’m not a betting person, but I would put my money on Facebook to be awarded the OTT rights.  Less than two weeks ago, Facebook Sports Stadium went LIVE into production.  It’s  a dedicated place to experience sports in real-time with your friends and the world.  With 1.5 Billion user population and 650 million sports fans, Facebook is the world’s largest stadium. Everyday people turn to Facebook to celebrate, commiserate, and talk trash with their friends and other fans.

With Facebook Sports Stadium, all the content on Facebook related to the game is in one place, and it comes in real time and appears chronologically.  The ability to air this content within this platform is the next natural step.