By Barry Janoff
October 26, 2015: Although the numbers are still being dissected and decoded, the NFL and Yahoo! both are claiming that the game between the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday (Oct. 25) — which was
the first free, global live stream of a regular season NFL game — had more than 33.6 million total views across all devices on Yahoo! and Tumblr and that some 15.2 million unique viewers tuned in for all or part of the game.
The NFL said about two-thirds of the viewing audience was in the U.S., the rest worldwide, reaching fans in more than 180 countries and territories.
The game was played in London's Wembley Stadium as part of the NFL's International Series.
Jacksonville defeated the Bills, 34-31, in front of an announced crowd of 84,021. That makes it the second-highest attended game in Wembley since the International Series started in 2007. A crowd of 84,004 saw the New England Patriots defeat the St. Louis Rams, 45-7, in October 2012.
The NFL, though fully observant of the in-stadium figures, was keeping a more diligent eye on the streaming and viewing numbers.
The game, which ran three hours and 15 minutes, saw fans stream more than 460 million total minutes, according to the league.
Yahoo! said it "brought fans a leading technical experience, performing with an average rebuffering ratio of nearly 1%, while delivering over 8.5 petabytes to end users. The stream reached HD levels, with max bitrates over 6.74 Megabits (Mbps) per second and 60 frames per second (fps)."
The game aired on TV in local markets in Buffalo and Jacksonville.
“We’re thrilled with the results of our initial step distributing an NFL game to a worldwide audience and with the work of our partner, Yahoo,” Hans Schroeder, svp-media strategy, business development & sales for the NFL, said in a statement. “We are incredibly excited by the fact that we took a game that would have been viewed by a relatively limited television audience in the United States and by distributing it digitally were able to attract a global audience of over 15 million viewers.”
According to number-crunching from CNN, the game averaged 2.36 million viewers per minute, high for a streaming sports broadcast but low for an NFL game, where a national broadcast typically averages more than ten million per minute.
The NFL said the 15.2 million unique viewership numbers of people who watched all or part of the game fell between the average 17.6 million of Thursday Night Football on CBS/NFL Network and the 13.5 million on ESPN's Monday Night Football.
Sunday Night Football on NBC averages more than 20 million.
Yahoo’s live stream featured video advertising from about 30 brands during commercial breaks, as well as exclusive pre-game and halftime presenting sponsorships.
Dairy Queen was the pre-game show sponsor on Yahoo!, and Toyota sponsored the halftime show.
Advertisers also included American Express, Applebee’s, Arby's, Bose, Burlington Stores, Cadillac, Chrysler, CiCi’s Pizza, Citi, CompareCards.com, Danone Nations Cup, eHealth.com, Emirates Airline, Esurance, KFC, Kohl’s, Lincoln, Microsoft, Nationwide, Papa John's, Redd's Apple Ale, Snickers, Subway Restaurants, T-Mobile and Totino’s.
Yahoo! paid between $15-$20 million for the rights to stream the game, according to industry analysts.
Yahoo! was initially charging $200,000 for a 30-second ad, but dropped that to $100,000, according to Reuters. Industry analysts say the cost may have dropped to $50,000 last week.
Among the companies that are officially joined with the NFL International Series and/or the NFL U.K. Web site — some of whom received on-air signage exposure during the game — are Anheuser-Busch (Budweiser), DraftKings, Five Guys, Hyundai, Pepsi Max, Visa, Microsoft, Marriott, Papa John's, Virgin Atlantic, Majestic, Bose and Ion Camera.
The NFL's next International Series game is this Sunday (Nov. 1), also in Wembley Stadium, between the Detroit Lions and Kansas City Chiefs.
The NFL last week signed a deal to extend the International Series in Wembley through 2020. The Jaguars, already in the third year of a four-year commitment to play one home game in London per year through 2016, also extended that agreement through 2020.
The NFL also will begin to play a minimum of two games per year in the currently under construction stadium that will be home to the English Premier League’s Tottenham Hotspur via a ten-year deal signed earlier this year. The venue is due to open in the summer of 2018.
The moves support the NFL's desire to build a global brand and also give credence to those who want to see a league franchise and/or the Super Bowl come to London.
Prio to the gam, Lisa Utzschneider, chief revenue officer for Yahoo!, said, "We're thrilled to have some of the world’s top brands working with Yahoo! to engage NFL fans around this historic live stream. We’ve created a new way for viewers to enjoy one of their favorite sports live on Yahoo!, along with amazing opportunities for advertisers to reach these digital fans whether they watch on their desktop, smartphone, tablet or connected TV."
Marketers Swimming Upstream For First NFL-Yahoo! Global Live Stream Game
NFL Goes Long, Extends International Series Alliance In Wembley Thru 2020
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