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Deeper Dive: First Globle-Wide Stream Should be Considered a Win for Sports and Digital

by Photo of Tommy Dee

Sports executives and media everywhere await results of inaugural Yahoo/NFL experiment

Deeper Dive: First Globle-Wide Stream Should be Considered a Win for Sports and Digital

Leave it to a Rex Ryan team to make things interesting on a day where the actual playing of the game was secondary to how it was being broadcasted. 

The Ryan-led Buffalo Bills did their very best to keep consumers engaged during the NFL's inaugural global-wide stream that was seen across the world through Yahoo on Sunday. Despite a furious late-game comeback, the Bills gave up passing touchdown in a 34-31 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars at London's Wembley Stadium.

The game had all the billing you’d expected it to have considering two of the NFL’s smaller markets playing in a different country, but with these managed expectations, Yahoo and the NFL’s first attempt at a global-wide, live stream went rather smoothly. Without question, Yahoo bet big on itself coming into the event, expecting their own global reach to pull in the worldwide audience according to their VP of Publisher Products, Ken Fuchs (Digiday.com; Patel; 10/23/15).

“A lot of people’s natural habits are going to bring them to us, whether it’s coming to Yahoo Mail to check their email or Yahoo Fantasy to set their lineups,” said Fuchs. “We have the ability to make the game available to them regardless of their access point.”

I was reminded through my Twitter timeline and watched on both my Macbook Air and IPhone to gauge experience, and early on production was choppy, especially coming in and out of commercial breaks. As a whole, and particularly on Apple TV, the action seemed easily consumable, which should be deemed as a solid success for both the NFL and Yahoo.

The game itself was a bit of a snorefest before the Bills staged the epic comeback scoring 28 unanswered points in taking a 31-27 lead with just a few minutes remaining. However, Blake Bortles touchdown pass to Allen Hurns with 2:16 remaining led the Jaguars to the victory.

This was the equivalent of the first round of a golf major from the likes of a Jordan Speith or Jason Day. As the old adage goes in golf, you can’t win a major on day one, but you sure as hell lose it and that’s exactly how Yahoo and the NFL played it. They let the game do the talking with no gimmicks or risks and that proved the prudent play. They focused on execution and despite a few buffering snafus, they pulled off a solid and encouraging broadcast.

Granted, Yahoo paid a ton for the experiment, but when you consider the combination of chord cutting and mobile devise projections someone had to. It was a calculated gamble and one that was timely based on recent financial struggles from potential competitors in the space, namely ESPN

We look forward to the improvements and potential advertising innovations as the experiment continues.

Notes:

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  • Cannot lose sight of the marketing opportunities baked right into the user- experience. Right under the fold on laptop is entry into the NFL store.
  • Really appreciated Yahoo’s embed functionality through Tumblr . Very smart, seamless way of sharing the action through another one of Yahoo’s vast platforms. Yahoo needs to see some big time numbers to justify it’s $1.1 billion dollar acquisition of Tumblr in 2014  and this could provide a real revenue remedy.

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