Could Zoom Partner with NFL Draft?

The NFL is reportedly seeking a virtual solution that would allow teams and prospects to participate in the draft from home. Could Zoom be an option?

It certainly won't be your average NFL draft this year. 

With professional sports on hold as the U.S. battles the coronavirus epidemic, the National Football League is reportedly mulling how to conduct its draft without spreading the virus. 

As Sports Illustrated wrote this week, the NFL is planning to move forward with the draft, which was originally scheduled to begin on April 23. But with the trajectory of the pandemic uncertain, the league is considering virtual solutions that would allow managers and prospects to participate from home. 

Along with the NBA, MLB, NHL and other professional sports leagues, the NFL is suspending live events amid widespread stay-at-home orders and business closures in the U.S. Although the regular football season won't begin for several months, NFL general managers are already concerned that the pandemic will interfere with typical team operations like player physicals and other pre-season testing. 

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter earlier this week advising NFL teams to close their facilities, with limited exceptions.

So which virtual solution would do the honors of collaborating with the NFL on a draft-from-home? 

Various virtual conferencing tools have seen a dramatic spike in usage as the pandemic has spread. And the current situation is also highlighting the distinctions between them

In these unusual circumstances, many remote workers don't have time to be choosy and will jump on whichever solution is most readily accessible, whether it be Microsoft's  (MSFT) - Get Report Skype, Cisco's  (CSCO) - Get Report WebEx, Google  (GOOGL) - Get Report Hangouts or others. And for typical videoconferences and work meetings, any number of virtual solutions will likely suffice. 

Skype is a common option for news broadcasters conducting remote interviews. But the NFL draft, a complex and multi-day process involving 32 teams, numerous rounds and hundreds of prospects, makes for a special case. 

"If something were to fail or drop out, that would hurt the integrity of the draft beyond the concerns [teams] already have," said Conor Orr, a reporter at Sports Illustrated who covers the NFL.

For conferences that involve dozens or even hundreds of participants, Zoom  (ZM) - Get Report has emerged as a leader. Its stock has more than doubled since the beginning of the year as investors expect its growth rate to soar with so many workers around the world using its product now to work and communicate amid the coronavirus pandemic, although there are concerns about its valuation

Famously (if you've heard its radio ads), Zoom allows up to 100 participants per meeting with paid plans, and up to 1,000 participants in Enterprise plans. And it touts its popularity in universities and other contexts that require support for many participants.

The company has also forged sports partnerships before: Last year, for example, it provided English Premier League soccer club Arsenal with conferencing tools across its organization in exchange for branding at its stadium.