You’ll be able to watch an NFL regular season game online later this year for free, thanks to Yahoo.
Back in March, we learned that the NFL would broadcast a game almost strictly over the Internet. Now we know that Yahoo will provide the technology to stream the Oct. 25 game between Buffalo and Jacksonville, and will do so at no cost to viewers.
This is a big deal for both the NFL and Yahoo, which reportedly paid at least $20 million for the streaming and advertising rights, according to Re/Code’s Peter Kafka.
“We’re thrilled that the NFL has chosen Yahoo for this historic opportunity,” Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer said in a statement. “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.”
This is the first NFL game to be streamed only online. While viewers in the local markets (Buffalo, Jacksonville) will have access to traditional cable streams, everyone else will only have the stream as an option to watch the live action. It’s the first time the league has ventured outside of its normal cable partners to air a game.
“The NFL has always been committed to being at the forefront of media innovation, “NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “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.”
That being said, this is still an experiment. At a media event touting the NFL’s adoption of technology in Seattle this past September, NFL Executive Vice President of Media Brian Rolapp addressed the increased use of mobile devices — 60 to 70 percent of fans are looking at another device when they’re watching a game — but made it clear that the priority remains on the tube for live games.
“TV is still the most effective way to deliver our game,” Rolapp said.
Despite the rise of the second screen and people streaming sports online, Rolapp added that the NFL has more live television viewers than ever and noted that “the report of TV’s death has been greatly exaggerated.”
Still, it’s worth noting that the NFL is testing ways to stream live games over the Internet, especially as more people cancel their cable subscriptions with the bevy of streaming options becoming available. This is a pattern followed by other sports media giants like ESPN, which is sold live online video subscriptions for the Cricket World Cup earlier this year.
As far as Yahoo’s involvement, some say that the $20 million price tag isn’t worth it for the tech giant that missed analyst expectations for both profits and earnings last quarter.
— Amir Efrati (@amir) June 3, 2015
The game, played in London, will air at 6:30 a.m. PT. It’s not exactly a must-see affair — Buffalo went 9-7 last year while Jacksonville hasn’t made the playoffs in seven years.
It’s unclear how Yahoo will stream the game and on what platforms, but the company — which is making a video content push — said that “whether you’re on your phone, tablet, laptop, console or connected device — we’ve got you covered.”