Yahoo isn’t making any public predictions on how many viewers around the world will stream this Sunday’s matchup in London between the Buffalo Bills (3-3) and the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5), but the online giant says it believes it has enough capacity nailed up, and access to more if it needs it, to handle anticipated viewing levels.
“We do know the scale of NFL games on a broadcast basis, so we’re preparing for that sort of audience,” Ken Fuchs, vice president, products at Yahoo, said. “There's been a tremendous amount of preparation that's gone into ensuring the quality of the experience meets our expectations and the fans' expectations…We have a number of tricks up our sleeve, so we can expand capacity as we need.”
Fuchs also points out that Yahoo’s got plenty of experience in delivering live streams and one-off events. Its agreement with Live Nation for live concerts, for example, pumped out 135 million streams in its first year. “We do have significant experience around doing live [streaming],” he said.
Yahoo will stream the game for free to most regions of the world via a wide range of platforms, including at Yahoo.com, via the Yahoo Sports app, Yahoo Screen, Tumblr, and on TVs via devices such as the Chromecast, Xbox One and Xbox 360, Amazon Fire TV, TiVo boxes, certain Vizio, Sony and Samsung connected TVs, and Roku players, and the Apple TV. The game, which is scheduled to kick off at 9:30 a.m. ET from Wembley Stadium in London, will still be available on regular TV (via CBS) in the local Buffalo and Jacksonville markets.
“It’s a historic event and game,” Fuchs said. “The reason for that is it’s the first-ever global, free, all-access, digital-only live stream of an NFL game.”
Yahoo views it as a way to reach a sizable fan base and to bring the game to new fans of the NFL around the world.
It’s also being positioned as a special opportunity for advertisers, which, Fuchs said, will be able to retarget Sunday’s streaming audience “and get a lot of information you get in digital advertising that you don’t get through traditional broadcast.”
Yahoo announced Friday that more than 30 brands, including American Express, Microsoft, Cadillac, City, KFC, Papa John’s, Snickers and Toyota are on board to advertise for the global live stream. Dairy Queen has signed on as the exclusive pre-game and halftime show sponsor on Yahoo, while Toyota will sponsor the halftime show.
Fuchs confirmed that Yahoo sold out its inventory for the game, but declined to discuss how much Yahoo paid for the rights to the game or how much advertisers are paying. According to The Wall Street Journal, some advertisers were able to buy spots for about half of the $150,000 per spot Yahoo was seeking, and that Yahoo paid $20 million for the rights.
“We’re very happy with where we are,” Fuchs said, noting that Sunday’s live stream is part of a long-term relationship between Yahoo and the NFL. “Selling out the game is a great indicator of the health of the effort."