While TV remains the screen most associated with the NFL, this year is shaping up to be the year of mobile. Whereas in past seasons, mobile streaming remained a small piece of the pie, this year it is poised to grow substantially, as Verizon’s Oath media unit floods the zone with live game coverage, alongside mobile offerings from NFL TV partners.
In particular, Oath’s streaming coverage of live NFL games this season is attracting blue chip advertisers, Oath VP of Americas sales Jeff Lucas tells Digital News Daily. Lucas adds that they sold out the regular season, though it is finding ways to bring new advertisers on board.
“We sold out the regular season, but we have three times as many users as we started with, as we thought we had, so it has been great. Now we have more capacity,” Lucas says.
Verizon previously was the exclusive mobile home for live NFL games, but reworked its deal with the NFL this season. The reworked deal means that games can now stream on network from other providers, but it also means that Oath can distribute games more widely through its Yahoo Sports brands and other Oath brands.
“I think when you make it so easy and accessible to the user, [advertisers] want to be there,” Lucas says. “They will reach so many people on TV, they will reach so many people on cable, they will reach so many people on different platforms, here is a platform that is their opportunity to go directly to the consumer.”
Users of the Yahoo Sports app can add their favorite teams, and be notified when a game is starting, encouraging live tune-in.
Oath says that advertisers including Universal Pictures, Activision’s “Call of Duty” franchise, Hotwire, and candy brand Skittles are on board this season -- all names familiar to viewers of live sports on linear television.
Lucas says he is bullish on Oath’s future with live sports, live content and premium original programming, and that the company is thinking of ways to build on its existing programming deals.
"We have a great roster of clients, blue-chip clients, that are very excited about this season but also excited about what is to come, and what else we are going to do,” he says. “We have deals with the NBA, we have deals with MLB, and we are looking at that and how we can expand those deals.”