The National Football League has finally followed up on its announcement, made in March, that it will live-stream one of its regular-season games in 2015. The good news: Yahoo will host the Oct. 25 stream of the Jacksonville Jaguars-Buffalo Bills game. The better news: it'll be available for free to viewers worldwide.
According to Re/code citing unnamed industry executives, Yahoo paid at least $20 million for streaming rights to the game, beating out another "very competitive" offer. The Web publisher will get, in return, exclusive advertising rights to the game.
The NFL previously live-streamed Super Bowl 49 in February via its own website as well as through authenticated TV Everywhere accounts, and it's continuing to test the OTT waters with this regular-season event.
"Our hope is that it will be a very high-quality experience," Brian Rolapp, head of NFL's media business, told Re/code. "But this is one of the reasons we're doing it--to figure out how close are we to high-quality streams of our most valuable property."
Other details, such as technical specs around the stream, which devices it will be available on, and so forth, weren't immediately available. Yahoo's Screen service is available on desktop browsers and it has apps for Android and iOS devices. But that's no guarantee of total availability: For example, during the Super Bowl, mobile devices that weren't on the Verizon Wireless network couldn't stream the game, due to licensing issues.
It also remains to be seen whether Yahoo will stream other NFL games. Broadcast rights to the league's games are mostly tied up in network TV contracts until 2022, and those networks may have a much keener interest in securing OTT rights to NFL games when contract negotiations fire up again. Other OTT providers may outbid Yahoo for future live-streamed events. But for now, Yahoo can add this feather to its live-streaming cap.
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