The NFL partnered with Yahoo! to stream a professional football game live by a single provider instead of broadcasting it on television for the first time ever on October 25. The game, between the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars, was played at Wembley Stadium in London. The live stream drew approximately 15.2 million unique viewers, according to the NFL.

 

Approximately one third of the viewers came from outside of the United States. This is a huge step in the right direction for a league that has struggled to appeal to fans at the international level.

 

The live stream on Yahoo! had an average viewership of 2.36 million views per minute. Although that broke previous streaming records of NFL games, the numbers were undoubtedly inflated by the fact that Yahoo! set up the stream to automatically play on its homepage, fantasy sites, and Tumblr.

 

Yahoo! was able to sell all of its advertisement slots for the game; however, it was forced to drop its asking price from $200,000 to less than $100,000.

 

 

The NFL counted any person who watched the stream for more than three seconds as a viewer. This means that anyone who was looking on the Yahoo! homepage or checking their Yahoo! fantasy football account for more than three seconds was designated as a viewer, even if viewing the game was not their intent, potentially inflating the number of viewers.

 

The Yahoo! live stream did not receive as many views as a typical game played on television; admittedly, the live stream had a few key disadvantages. The game was played very early in the morning (9:30 a.m. EST) and was probably not watched by viewers on the west coast. Besides that, The Jaguars and the Bills are both struggling franchises. The Jaguars have not been to the playoffs since 2008, while the Bills have not tasted the postseason since 1999. Finally, Buffalo and Jacksonville are not large media markets; neither team has a fan base as large as those of teams like the Giants or Cowboys.

 

Although the live stream experiment did not bring in as many viewers as a standard televised game, it did prove itself to be another viable option for the NFL to market itself to both current and potential fans. The league is looking to continue providing content and games to fans on a digital platform for the 2016 season.

 

Will live streams help the NFL appeal to potential fans outside of the United States who do not have as easy access to games? Could the development of live streamed games online give the NFL the upper hand on television networks and advertisers moving forward? Feel free to leave a comment or find me on Twitter @Andrew_Morse4