The first-ever free live stream of an NFL game Sunday, via Yahoo, wasn’t absolutely perfect. Some people thought the Jacksonville Jaguars-Buffalo Bill game came with a lot of freezing (even for a Buffalo game) and buffering and lagging.
But it appears, for most people, things got better.
Yahoo and the NFL said over 15.2 million uniques tuned in, four times more than Yahoo promised advertisers, and so a much more than respectable number, and 33.6 million streams. Fans watched 460 million total minutes across devices.
But CNN crunched the numbers and figures that, with viewers coming or going, in the average minute 2.36 million were viewing, which is far less than the 10 to 20 million average viewers per minute for an NFL afternoon or evening game.
Then again, this wasn’t an afternoon or evening game. It was played in London at 9:30 a.m. Eastern, and 6:30 on the West Coast. It involved two teams from small markets with so-so, or worse, teams. So this was not must-see TV game, and wasn't even scheduled in a must-be-awake time period.
It was a pretty unremarkable event and I think that’s the general consensus--one of those no-one-died affairs, which, if you’re Yahoo was what you wanted. The game WAS televised, in Buffalo and Jacksonville, for example, not to viewers in nearby Orlando. I contacted the newspaper there to find if there were complaints. “We heard nothing,” I was told.
Watching Yahoo via Amazon Fire, I had no problem. Ditto with iPad, and streaming from a Chromebook. The only difficulty had came from my Android phone, which was slow and stuttered. But even that cleared up.
As Richard Deitsch pointed out on SI.com, so many variables affect the quality of streaming, it was hard to praise or complain. He asked readers to send their game comments and they were all over the place. I had some specific Yahoo app problems that I think must have been purely my own fault.
But there were complaints.
Among reporters on the beat, the worst I saw came from Phillip Swann at TVPredictions.com who crabbed that “watching Yahoo's stream today was anything but easy, particularly in the first 20 minutes of the game when, for many viewers at least, the picture froze, stuttered, blurred or went to black. In fact, the picture froze so often that I thought the broadcast was being produced by Princess Elsa from the movie ‘Frozen.’”
Business Insider.com’s instant analysis, written as the game aired (or whatever streaming games do) was that the Yahoo stream was “terrible so far.”
But most people, I think, who experienced it and came away thinking the Yahoo presentation was pretty much like TV. On a big flat screen TV, it looked like a network telecast.
And lots of people--even football fans--who didn’t watch it at all should know they didn’t miss anything, except Internet history. And what’s that worth?