- Kirby Lee/USA Today
Despite some people experiencing trouble with their web-based feed, Yahoo’s first foray into streaming an NFL game put up some big viewer numbers.
According to the initial numbers released by Yahoo and the NFL, the game was watched by 15.2 million unique viewers who generated 33.6 million streams of the game in London between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Buffalo Bills.
Of those streams, approximately 33% were generated internationally, coming from 185 different countries, meaning approximately 10.1 million viewers came from the United States.
And this was game between the Bills and Jaguars – not exactly a marquee matchup – that aired at 9:00 AM Sunday on the east coast and 6:00 AM on the west coast.
The numbers seem like a big win for Yahoo as they reportedly struggled to sell adds, with spots going for less than half of the $200,000 price they were asking earlier in the year. Yahoo was also only guaranteeing advertisers 3.5 million streams, a number that was blown out of the water.
However, there is a red flag. The 33.6 million streams generated over 460 million total minutes of video consumed. That sounds like a lot, but only works out to about 30.3 minutes per unique viewer for a game that lasted 3 hours, 15 minutes.
If we assume that some people did watch most of the game, there were a lot of people who watched a lot less 30.3 minutes.
John Ourand of Sports Business Journal put the numbers in better perspective, noting that over the course of the game, the average number of people streaming in any given minute was just 1.64 million, a very small number.
The Yahoo NFL game pulled a 1.64M average minute audience in the USA. The previous low for a national US game was 1.9M for a game on NFLN.
— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) October 26, 2015
A report by CNN, put that number at a little more robust 2.36 million viewers.
To put that number in perspective, Monday Night Football averaged 13.3 million viewers during the 2014 season.
This suggests that many people tuned in not to watch a football game, but instead just for the novelty and to see what the experience was like. After watching for 10-15 minutes, the novelty wears off and you are still just watching a football game played between the Jags and Bills.
Another factor could also be the issues many people experienced with the web-based stream of the game, including pixelation, blurred images, and frozen streams. These problems were apparently not as common for the people using a streaming device such as a Roku, Apple TV, or iPad. However, those who did have problems with the feed may have given up on the broadcast.
Still, even with the streaming issues and the shorter viewing time, this $20 million experiment by Yahoo and the NFL still generated big numbers that will make it easier to sell the idea in the future. In other words, expect to see more in the future.
Correction: An earlier version of this story compared the average number of Monday Night Football viewers to the number of unique viewers when it is more accurate to compare it to the average audience over the course of the game.