By the Numbers: The NFL’s First Streaming-Only Game on Yahoo

Bills vs. Jags in London

In a first for the NFL, yesterday’s Bills/Jaguars game in London was broadcast worldwide not on television, but exclusively on Yahoo (except in Bills/Jags broadcast areas, where NFL rules prevent games from not being shown on free TV). To win the rights to test the first streaming-only NFL matchup, Yahoo shelled out a reported $20 million—in return, the company received 96% of ad space during the broadcast (the league took its requisite 4%), in addition to the obvious incentive of boosting their existing on-page CPM rates.

So, how did it go?

Though Yahoo reportedly was forced to reduce its initial asking price of $200k for 30 second spots, the company did secure 30 advertisers for the streaming-only broadcast after promising brands at least 3.5 million US streams. Yahoo Secure Search

According to Yahoo, that (lowball) goal was surpassed as the company saw 15.2 million unique viewers worldwide, 67% of which came from the US. 185 different countries tuned-in to the event, utilizing an estimated 33.6 million streams.

While these numbers might seem low for an internationally-broadcast NFL game (this past Super Bowl drew a record 114.4 million viewers, while the 2013 season averaged over 17 million a game), consider the following:

  • The game took place in London: meaning, for West Coasters, it was a 6:30am kick-off.
  • The Bills & Jaguars are both sub-.500 teams—not exactly a “compelling” matchup.
  • Only 40% of the world even has access to the Internet, a small percentage compared to the 1.9 billion households with a television.

In fairness, Yahoo’s number is artificially inflated in it of itself; the company was “auto-playing” the game directly from their homepage—which, according to their own statistics, receives some 40+ million views per day.

Still, it’s an impressive start for a game that didn’t matter much outside of the teams’ respective fan-bases.

And—perhaps most importantly—Yahoo broadcast the first streaming-only game in style. Even before I caught this thread on reddit singing the HD broadcast’s praises, I myself was quite impressed with the quality of the CBS-produced streaming feed. At one point, I accessed the Bills/Jags game through the Fantasy Football app, not connected to WiFi, and had a crystal-clear picture with no noticeable hiccups.

Whether or not the NFL attempts a streaming-only broadcast again next season is anyone’s guess. I could envision them wanting to extend their reach, and using streaming as a secondary vehicle to do so; but, I imagine that comes with its own set of issues with broadcasters CBS, NBC, ESPN, and Fox.

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