The numbers from Yahoo’s live streaming of the Oct. 25 Bills-Jaguars game are impressive. According to the Sunnyvale-based company, over 15.2 million unique viewers tuned in for a total of more than 460 million total minutes of the game, with 33% (roughly 5 million) of streams coming in internationally, across 185 countries worldwide.
Yahoo and the NFL both said they were pleased with the effort, but compared to international viewing of the 2014 Super Bowl, the numbers are somewhat lackluster. Reuters reported about 38.5 million watched the game outside the United States in 2014 which primarily includes linear viewing. Those numbers are impressive considering the Super Bowl airs at a far less internationally friendly time.
While a number of fans posted issues with the quality of their viewing experience (screen freeze, buffering), the majority of those who viewed the game were pleased with the web broadcast. Yahoo claimed average rebuffering ratio of about 1%, while delivering over 8.5 petabytes to end users. The stream reached HD levels, with max bit rates over 6.74 Megabits (Mbps) per second and 60 frames per second (fps).
As to what comes next, there likely will be more such streamcasts that involve leading digital media players and major sports leagues. Leagues such as the NBA and NHL — which have a greater global footprint in terms of foreign-born players and fans — are most likely to produce similar trials.
While the game was a success by Yahoo’s standards (more than 30 top brands partnered with Yahoo for the event), the streaming event from London was simply a television broadcast moved to a digital medium. As such, it was not all that novel given the fact MLB, the NHL, football (soccer) teams in Europe and others already make their games available digitally to multiple platforms.
What Yahoo’s event lacked was any trace of indigenous interactivity that the medium affords. Social media, fantasy sports, replays and alternative camera angles — common to other sportscasts on the web — were missing with Yahoo’s Wembley Stadium broadcast. At the end of the day (or game, as the case may be), Yahoo’s live broadcast from London was a win, but not one that tags them as a major innovator.