NHL signs on to Yahoo Sports to offer live-streamed games

Building on its experience live-streaming select NFL games last season, Yahoo is partnering with the National Hockey League to bring a number of its games to online viewers. An NHL "Game of the Day" will live-stream up to four days per week on the Yahoo Sports page.

The freely available live streams -- viewers do not have to authenticate or have a cable or other subscription in order to watch -- are not just a boon for fans. Yahoo hopes to leverage the strategic partnership to build more advertising opportunities for brands looking to reach sports fans through additional avenues -- and rebuild its own value in the process.

In its fourth-quarter earnings call with investors and analysts, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer detailed the company's revamped content strategy. The website shuttered its Yahoo Screen online video hub in January and instead split its content offerings -- not just video but other content as well -- into four main verticals: Sports, Finance, Lifestyle and News. Since then, Yahoo has been selling brand advertisers into the verticals and putting together a number of exclusive content deals to attract viewers. For example, Yahoo Finance live-streamed the Berkshire Hathaway investor conference, the first time that the annual event has ever been broadcast to the outside world.

In addition to its NFL and NHL strategic partnerships, Yahoo offers an MLB Game of the Day, selected NBC Sports content, and in February announced a deal with the PGA Tour to live-stream many of its events. Yahoo also launched an Esports site which includes live-streamed gaming tournaments, hoping to grab a good chunk of this burgeoning segment.

Yahoo has been putting together a number of integrated advertising campaigns to monetize its online video strategies. Its most recent is a campaign with Lexus built around the 2016 Men's College Basketball Tournament (aka March Madness) -- the auto maker is sponsoring Yahoo's fantasy sports page during the tourney, and will offer its own branded game in which fans can pick which basketball teams will reach a combined 60 points the fastest.

"We're helping brands like Lexus connect with the millions of fans that visit Yahoo Sports every year to create brackets tied to one of their favorite basketball events," said Lisa Utzschneider, Chief Revenue Officer for Yahoo, in a press release. "Sports fans are incredibly passionate on Yahoo and we're committed to bringing them new experiences that make their favorite games even better."

How much the ongoing live-streaming announcements and premium ad campaigns will raise Yahoo's profile remains to be seen. However, potential buyers including Verizon (NYSE: VZ) are reportedly still kicking the tires as they consider purchasing the Web media company.

Verizon CFO Fran Shammo told investors at the Deutsche Bank 24th Annual Media, Internet & Telecom Conference this week that while there is "a lot of behind the scenes and everybody flurrying" but that no discussions have taken place regarding an acquisition of Yahoo. He reiterated that any due diligence has yet to begin, and "until we get under the hood and really see what is there, there is really nothing to talk about at this point."

For more:
- see the release
- see this release
- see this Verizon investor event page

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