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Yahoo hoping to score with exclusive NFL game

Sally Herships Oct 23, 2015
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If you’re planning to watch the Bills-Jaguars football game this Sunday — and you don’t live in Buffalo or Jacksonville — flip on your computer instead of your TV. Yahoo will be streaming the game. And its website will be the only place to see it.

Showing an NFL game at 9:30 on a Sunday morning, from London, online-only is an experiment. Which may explain why the cost for a 30 second ad during the game is reportedly $50,000. Or, according to Michael Leeds, a sports economist at Temple University, “very low.”

The same ad, noted Leeds, during Sunday afternoon football on TV could cost 14 times as much.

“So this is cheap,” he said. “Very, very cheap.”

Yahoo said it’s lined up more than 30 major sponsors for the event. And exclusive streaming of an NFL game will be a first. But Leeds said there’s another reason advertisers may be excited about Sunday’s game. They want to know what kind of fan will be watching.

“Are the type of people who watch streaming different from the people who watch over the air or cable broadcasts? Are they a little bit more techy,” he said. “Maybe people who watch streamed broadcasts aren’t that interested in pickup trucks.”

Leeds said games online may attract different kinds of advertisers. But Yahoo said it’s bagged big brand names for Sunday, such as American Express, Snickers and Chrysler. 

It seems likely the world of broadcast sports will keep its eye on this weekend’s game. But, notes Joe Favorito, a sports marketing consultant, there’s just one thing Yahoo is after. 

“Brand names to come in and activate, and promote, and be part of the experience versus trying to get a dollar out of it this time,” he said.

Yahoo reportedly paid $20 million for streaming rights. But even if ad prices online are less than for TV, Favorito said Yahoo could still consider Sunday a win — nabbing major advertisers for the first streamed football game. 

Everybody is aware that cord cutting and unbundling is going on in cable television and broadcast television,” said Favorito. So broadcast outlets and sports have to stay flexible.

“This is kind of a first shot,” he said. “Just like people said, ‘Hey, you can never put games on cable television,’ years ago. It had to be on broadcast. Well, we know where the world is today, and that’s certainly changed.”

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