Photo via Pete Sheffield/Flickr (CC-BY-SA 2.0)
The NFL tried a grand experiment in Week 7 of its 2015 season. With the Buffalo Bills and the Jacksonville Jaguars set to play in London, the league broadcast that regular-season game exclusively on Yahoo, meaning the only way to watch it in the United States outside of those teams' local markets was to to log into Yahoo and livestream it.
But this year, things are different. Though the NFL and Twitter announced last week that the social-media site would livestream 10 Thursday-night games in 2016, the three games taking place in the United Kingdom will not be part of that deal.
"When we discussed potential streaming packages with interested parties, there were many options on the table, including the London games," an NFL spokesman told Reuters. "Ultimately the package we agreed on with Twitter involved ten of our Thursday night games which we felt was the best option at that point."
The NFL chose Twitter as its livestreaming partner over other companies like Facebook, Verizon Wireless, and Amazon. Although Yahoo reportedly paid $20 million to stream the one Bills–Jaguars game last year, Re/code reported that the 10-game 2016 slate cost Twitter less than $10 million.
Aside from some buffering hiccups, the 2015 Bills–Jaguars livestreaming experiment was considered a success, with about 34 million people spending at least some time watching the game and with 460 million total minutes consumed. (Those numbers, though, were probably inflated, because the game automatically began playing whenever someone logged into the Yahoo page.)
Perhaps most exciting for the NFL: Yahoo said that more than 33 percent of viewers were watching from outside the United States, specifically from more than 185 different countries.
The NFL's decision to use Twitter for 2016 livestreaming makes sense, because the site boasts 800 million users internationally and because many sports fans already watch sports and tweet at the same time.
Given that the NFL is intent on growing the sport for potential fans all over the world, the league is likely to return to livestreaming international contests in the future.
H/T Awful Announcing