Free, Live Hockey Games: See Yahoo For Details

With growing live sports programming, Yahoo could be looking to help out those budget-conscious “skinny bundle” consumers -- as well as find a new digital media profile.

The digital media company, which has a goal of streaming a live sports event every day of the week online,  just announced a deal with the National Hockey League to deliver four games a week under its Yahoo Sports “Game of the Day” umbrella.

This may not sound like much considering what ESPN, Fox Sports, and NBCSN, among others, already do online.

But while traditional cable TV sports channels require authentication -- that users have a cable, satellite or telco monthly packages to get streaming content for free -- Yahoo users don’t need to go through that hoop.

Phil Lynch, vp of media partnerships at Yahoo, said in a release that the Yahoo program is “completely frictionless and for free — no cable subscription or authentication required.” Yes, “friction” is the new media enemy.



This could be a future promising way for Yahoo to market itself. Consumers can certainly understand free. Better still, they can understand the business scenario for Yahoo, which will monetize the same way traditional TV networks, have gotten paid for decades: from video advertising revenue.

You might be hedging here: Yahoo Sports isn’t on the same omnipresent media level as an ESPN, Fox Sports or NBC Sports. And the NHL isn’t the biggest of sports media franchises, versus Major League Baseball, the NBA, or the NFL.

But in an age of skinny bundles where consumers are looking to trim pay TV packages from $125 to $30 a month, having a free sports streaming alternative makes a lot of sense. Traditional cable TV sports channels have been blamed for ever-rising pay TV monthly fees.

Sports TV franchises who might want to hedge against possible viewer/fan erosion-- and/or backlash -- might want to take a look at this strategy. Possible advertising revenue sharing could be a future deal-point to consider.

The alternative, in hockey terms, could be the short end of a media face-off.

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