NFL picks Yahoo to broadcast first-ever Internet-only game

The NFL made interesting news in the offseason when it declared that the Week 7 contest between the Buffalo Bills and the Jacksonville Jaguars would be available only via the Internet, marking the first time in league history that the NFL had taken a technological step like this.

On Wednesday, the NFL announced that it was partnering with Yahoo to deliver this livestreaming content.

Here’s the requisite back-patting from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Marissa Mayer, the president and CEO of Yahoo.

“The NFL has always been committed to being at the forefront of media innovation. Through this partnership with Yahoo—one of the world’s most recognizable digital brands—we are taking another important step in that direction as we continue to closely monitor the rapidly evolving digital media landscape,” Goodell said.

Said Mayer, “We’re thrilled that the NFL has chosen Yahoo for this historic opportunity. It marks a significant change in the way users can access this amazing content. The NFL and Yahoo have both long engaged football fans around the world. Our partnership provides the ultimate football experience—with digital availability, designed for the modern fan.”

The game will take place Oct. 25 at 9:30am ET with the two teams battling it out from London’s Wembley Stadium. It’s an interesting experiment for the league, particularly because neither of these teams is expected to be a playoff contender and because both squads reside in two of the league’s smallest media markets.

The game will be available via free TV for fans in Jacksonville and Buffalo, but everybody else in the world is going to need to log onto the Internet in order to watch.

So, why did the NFL go with Yahoo? The league explained in its press release that it’s “leveraging Yahoo’s global audience, digital advertising capabilities, and delivery platforms, which span desktop, mobile, tablet, connected TVs, and set-top boxes to ensure that the Bills-Jaguars game is accessible on every screen globally.”

According to the MMQB.com, at least two companies offered big money to the NFL for the rights to broadcast the game but only if they could charge a pay-per-view price to the consumer. The NFL, though, didn’t go for it.

“When we decided to do this—take one game and distribute it around the world digitally—we wanted to approach it with an open mind,” NFL Executive Vice President of Media Brian Rolapp told the MMQB’s Peter King. “We were always going to show it over the air in the Buffalo and Jacksonville markets. Other than that, we said, ‘Tell us what you’ll do.’ We got back a lot of interest. Free, subscription, with or without mobile filters… And we settled on Yahoo… The last thing on our mind was money [rights fees]. We did want fair value for the game, and we think we got that.”

Re/code estimates that Yahoo would have paid $20 million for the right to stream the game. In return, Yahoo takes all the ad rights.

Yes, but will people watch the game in this country without the convenience of simply flipping on the TV?  Probably so. The NFL, after all, knows how to make money. 

Photo via Joe Shlabotnik/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Josh Katzowitz

Josh Katzowitz

Josh Katzowitz is a staff writer at the Daily Dot specializing in YouTube and boxing. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. A longtime sports writer, he's covered the NFL for CBSSports.com and boxing for Forbes. His work has been noted twice in the Best American Sports Writing book series.