(Reuters) - The U.S. National Football League will be closely watching the audience for Yahoo Inc’s global webcast of a game on Sunday as it considers whether to do more deals to live stream games, an NFL official told Reuters Thursday.
Yahoo will stream Sunday’s game between the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars, the first time viewers around the world can watch an NFL game online for free. It kicks off in London at 2:30 p.m., or 9:30 a.m. EDT.
The NFL will be taking a close look at not just how many viewers watch the game, but also what kind of devices they use to watch it, the quality of the viewing experience and whether the game draws a larger share of millennial viewers and how they are using social media to talk about the game, said Vishal Shah, the NFL’s vice president of digital media strategy.
It also will study viewership in various regions, he said. The game will take place in prime time in Asian markets.
“All distribution formats are on the table” for future games and other content where rights are available, he said. “How we distribute live games can take a lot of shapes.”
The NFL and Yahoo declined to comment on viewership goals.
Over the past few months, Yahoo dropped its asking price for advertisements during the game from $200,000 to less than $100,000, two media buyers familiar with the situation told Reuters. Yahoo is guaranteeing advertisers 3.5 million streams in the United States, the buyers said.
Yahoo declined to comment on ad costs.
“We are completely sold out on ads,” Lisa Utzschneider, Yahoo’s chief revenue officer, told Reuters in an interview, adding that more than 30 brands had signed up to advertise, including Toyota Motor Corp, Microsoft Corp and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV. Dairy Queen ice cream is the pre-game sponsor and Toyota Motor Corp is the half-time sponsor.
While the opportunity to advertise during the game may be attractive to global brands, it is less so for U.S. brands because the game is early for West Coast viewers, and fans in the game’s local markets will be able to view it on television on CBS affiliates, the sources, who wished to remain anonymous because the negotiations were confidential, told Reuters.
Still, advertisers are interested to see how many viewers tune in and if the game results in additional partnerships between the NFL and Yahoo or its competitors.
Advertisers had the option to target spots domestically or globally, meaning viewers in London, for example, may see different ads than viewers in New York, Utzschneider said.
Reporting by Jessica Toonkel and Lisa Richwine; Editing by Stephen Coates and Lisa Shumaker