When Yahoo hosted the first free, worldwide live-stream of an NFL game last October, the tech giant pulled in more than 15 million unique viewers. The NFL and Yahoo touted the number as a huge success, even though many observers noted that in TV terms the total audience barely cracked 2 million. And let’s not forget, this was a Sunday morning (dawn on the West Coast) tilt between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Buffalo Bills playing in London. Not exactly Bears-Packers at Lambeau.
Even so, according to Joe Depalo, senior VP of technical operations of Limelight Networks — one of several content delivery networks (CDNs) that helped Yahoo stream the game (including Akamai and Level 3) — Yahoo’s expectations were much, much higher than those 15 million uniques. Going in, they were anticipating the same audience as a typical NFL broadcast, Depalo said, even though Limelight did its best to warn them otherwise.