I suppose some football fans are looking forward to the Jacksonville Jaguars-Buffalo Bills game, live from London, this Sunday. That would include lots of people in Buffalo, very few people in Jacksonville, and Marissa Mayer, the CEO at (insert disparaging adjective here) Yahoo.
This will be the first time a regular season NFL game has been streamed exclusively around most of the world. There’s no U.S. TV coverage except in the teams’ home markets. (Also, the NFL was peddling the game to China separately.) CBS will produce the game for those TV broadcasts, from Wembley Stadium, and that is the feed Yahoo will use, too.
Reportedly, Yahoo paid $20 million for rights, which will air at 9:30 a.m. Eastern, at yahoo.com/nflstream.
That early hour means that at Yahoo headquarters in Sunnyvale, CA., it’s extremely likely that the 1-5 Jaguars will be hopelessly trailing the better (but not much) Bills by the time the sun rises over there at 7:25.
Asked about this video history-making event, Bills coach Rex Ryan wasn’t excited. "I can make it sound good and say it means a lot.” But he didn’t. “It is just a game for us. We don't know who is shooting it, seeing it, whatever you say. That is cool we are the first one."
In the NFL, such lack of enthusiasm could get Ryan flagged with a flagrant failure-to-hype penalty.
On other hand, the Jaguars are NFL’s official London-fodder. They have appeared there in the previous two seasons and lost by a combined score of 73-27. The NFL just this week announced that Jacksonville, which doesn’t attract many fans in its home town, will keep going back to Wembley to get kicked around through the 2020 season. Besides losing, players don’t seem to like the trip.
Apparently advertisers feel that way too. The Wall Street Journal says Yahoo asked $150,000 for spots in the game but sometimes settled for just half that. The paper said a typical Sunday game can grab $500,000. Yahoo wouldn’t disclose to the Journal or MediaPost what it’s getting.
Yahoo announced 30 “top brands” are advertising in the game. Those are American Express, Applebee’s, Arby's, Bose, Burlington Stores, Cadillac, Chrysler, CiCi’s Pizza, Citi, CompareCards.com, Dairy Queen, Danone Nations Cup, eHealth.com, Emirates Airline, Esurance, KFC, Kohl’s, Lincoln, Microsoft, Nationwide, Papa John's, Redd's Apple Ale, Snickers, Subway, T-Mobile, Totino’s and Toyota, among others.
They will have access to a lot of eyeballs, though it’s a sure bet most of them will be comfortably shielded by their closed-tight eyelids. But in theory! Yahoo and its Tumblr site get 1 billion visitors a month, says Yahoo.
Also those advertisers get data from Yahoo they don’t get from TV and will be able to reconnect with those viewers, so if even if U.S. viewership is small by NFL standards, it might be useful.
Oh, yeah. So another entity watching how this all goes is the NFL itself. Its big sports packages are locked up for years to come but its newish slate of Thursday night games goes up for bidding after this season and might be that the league could package that basket of games for streaming. But I’d bet TV could beat any rational online bid.
Still, it’s possible that Yahoo could build on the NFL. Because the games probably would always be produced by one of the big networks, Yahoo would avoid that cost and just reap revenue and the halo effect of having the association with the league.
It could use that boost. Earlier this week, Yahoo announced it took a $42 million bath on three TV-like series it produced, including a new version of the old NBC comedy, “Community.”
Snapchat, which launched its Discovery editorial feature earlier this year by offering fare from 12 online providers, chose Yahoo (and Vice and Comedy Central among others).
But it recently gave Yahoo the hook and replaced it with BuzzFeed, apparently in large part because Yahoo seemed ancient to Snapchat’s young users when they saw expensively-acquired news reader Katie Couric popping up. “Most Yahoo content opened like an old-school news broadcast, with Couric sitting at a desk, reading into the camera, followed by a long cut to the Yahoo logo,” Fast Company reported. “Kids couldn’t tune out fast enough.”
By comparison, all Yahoo has to worry about is how many people will sleep in this Sunday.firstname.lastname@example.org