Yahoo! has been in the business of live for nearly a decade. Across Tumblr and its destination sites, the company pulls nearly a billion monthly unique views. Despite the news that the company’s original video push was less than savory, er, “didn’t fit into the overall business agenda,” according to a Yahoo spokesperson, live is, well, alive and kicking for the internet media company. And this weekend, Yahoo (YHOO )will have the chance to put its live stream reach to the test, courtesy of the Buffalo vs Jacksonville NFL game, being played in London.
What comes into question is whether this is the right strategy but the wrong game?
And at the surface, it would appear to be a rookie play given the time zone issue for American fans. “We all recognized that 9:30 in the morning on a Sunday morning isn’t exactly prime time in the United states, not to mention the Western part of the United States. We’re gonna be interested in the global audience for sure. we’re really interested to see how this does across Europe and Asia,” said Alex Riethmiller, NFL’s VP of Communications.
For the NFL, this game fits into a bigger international play, though, as the league works to expand its popularity in territories overseas. In 2014, the company claimed over 13 million viewers tuned into NFL games in the United Kingdom so by partnering with a company like Yahoo, that reaches an international audience, the NFL could score big. According to various website traffic tracking site, Yahoo.com’s audience is between 30–40% in the U.S.
Yahoo, on the other hand, may not claim the watershed “Super bowl” moment that has driven so much media hype these last few days.
“NFL is the number one broadcast every single week. It outranks [all other programming], there’s a scarcity factor, fans will watch any game because of the interest in Fantasy sports, and when you combine that with the shift of users from cable TV and that the majority of millenials are watching digitally, put together, this is a really unique opportunity,” said Ken Fuchs, Yahoo’s VP of Product.
All that considered, from a viewership perspective, Yahoo may still stretch to grab eyeballs in the multi-millions. For the U.S. viewers, the game could swing into the realm of irrelevance, not just because of the time zone, but because the two teams aren’t high-interest contenders in this season’s games nor in Fantasy Football rankings.
From a tech standpoint, though, Yahoo has optimized for every platform imagineable, from Yahoo.com, to Yahoo Sports, Yahoo Fantasy Football, mobile apps, connected TV’s and has even dedicated prime real estate at the header of Tumblr. Anyone visiting a Yahoo-owned property is nearly guaranteed to get netted into the NFL live stream funnel.
“If you look at the league’s strategy over the last three years, we’ve made deals with various platforms, and that’s been done in response to the metrics that people are spending more time on tablets and laptops and mobile phones especially. We want to make sure our games and our content are where our fans are. This is the latest example that the NFL has to make sure our content is as accessible as possible,” added Riethmiller.
NFL will be looking at both size of audience and time spent, but more importantly, the NFL team will be looking to gain knowledge on the markets where viewership is highest. Further, NFL is going to be looking at the delivery and user experience.
“We’re trying to deliver a new high quality experience and to bring in new fans from around the world. Everything we’re doing with the NFL is really geared around that plan,” said Fuchs.