The 2015 NFL on Yahoo logo.

Yahoo and the NFL are calling Sunday’s global live stream of the Buffalo Bills-Jacksonville Jaguars game from London a success. Both announce that 15.2 million unique viewers watched the game either through Yahoo or Tumblr platforms on various devices (mobile, tablet, computer, set-top). And there were 33.6 million streams which the NFL believes will be the most-streamed event in U.S. history.

In addition, 33% of the streams were based outside of the U.S. with 185 countries involved. This game was the first time an NFL game was available for free without authentication or international restrictions.

According to the NFL, the 15.2 million unique viewers would rank yesterday’s London game in last week’s Top 10 programs, below Thursday Night Football and above Monday Night Football. One fact that may have skewed the numbers was the game was on autoplay on the home page and a stream was counted if it went for more than three seconds.

Overall, 460 million minutes were streamed which translates to about 2.36 million viewers per minute. CNN’s Brian Stelter writes that for NFL TV games, viewership averages about 10 to 20 million viewers a minute.

Throughout the game, there were reports of buffering and other problems, but others reported having a clear stream with broadcast quality video.

Even with the glitches, the NFL and Yahoo are happy with yesterday’s Buffalo-Jacksonville stream and while there’s no official word as of yet, we can expect another streaming game in the future.

These numbers do not include television ratings for Buffalo and Jacksonville, the two markets that had access to the game on TV, London where the game aired on two networks, Sky Sports and BBC Two and digital numbers in China which also had access to the game on the internet.

Yahoo Senior Vice President of Product and Engineering Adam Cahan summed up the stream’s success in a Tumblr post:

We couldn’t be more proud that the NFL chose Yahoo to bring football to fans around the world through this unique live stream experience. We’re seeing more and more people shift away from TV and we’re thrilled to join the NFL in setting a new standard for sports programming. 

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone at Yahoo who made this possible across our product, engineering, design, partnerships, marketing, sales, editorial, studios, customer care and PR teams; and to our users and fans around the world–thank you! This was an event that makes all of us proud to be a Yahoo.

While there won’t be a package of online games in this current NFL TV contract, expect the NFL to reach out to tech companies for the next round of bidding in the next decade.

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.

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