Yahoo appears to be doing more streaming of live sports games. The company streamed a NFL game exclusively last year, is reportedly in the mix for further NFL streaming rights, signed a partnership with the NHL in March to stream four live games a week, and now has announced that they’ll stream a MLB game each day. Geographic restrictions may apply, but like the other sports streams the company has done in the past, these games will be free to those who can access them. Here’s the schedule of their games for April:
What’s behind this? Well, the company has been going into streaming on a variety of fronts, including live concerts, and sports looks to be a focus. Yahoo’s Adam Cahan told Reuters’ Deborah Todd around the NHL deal last month that sports streaming is a way to get the millennial-heavy audiences advertisers want:
Adam Cahan, Yahoo’s senior vice president of mobile and emerging products, said the deal helps advertisers reach millennials, an elusive demographic, as they are unlikely to see games on TV due to shifting viewing habits.
The effort is also an attempt to build off of Yahoo’s first-ever global live stream in October of an NFL match played in London. Yahoo guaranteed advertisers 3.5 million viewers for that event and delivered around 15.2 million.
Since then, the NFL has opened up discussions with Yahoo and several other Internet companies to live stream all three games broadcast in London during the 2016 season.
Yahoo has used momentum from that broadcast to secure streaming deals with Major League Baseball, the Professional Golf Association and competitive video gaming organizations.
With the company in the process of spinning off its core business – which includes its Web sites and email service – and a possible sale of that business afterward, Cahan said the new advertising streams could be helpful to that effort.
“We’re excited we can bring those kinds of unique experiences to users and can bring it at the scale Yahoo can deliver,” he said.
Another Yahoo executive, Phil Lynch, said around the NHL deal that the company’s goal was to provide a free stream of at least one sporting event every day:
“This alliance brings us one step closer to providing fans a live professional sporting event every day, on Yahoo, completely frictionless and for free — no cable subscription or authentication required,” said Phil Lynch, vice president, Media Partnerships at Yahoo. “We remain committed to delivering the best digital content to our users and advertisers, and the NHL’s premium content nicely complements our offering of live and on-demand partner content, including Yahoo/MLB’s Game of the Day, Yahoo/NBC Sports content and our recently announced deal with the PGA Tour.”
It’s interesting that Yahoo is focusing on game content while other web companies like Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter have gone more towards highlights and/or behind-the-scenes content. Both have their advantages and disadvantages; live games can hold viewers’ attention longer and can be destination viewing, but come with more costs, and not everyone wants to watch a long event online. We’ll see if Yahoo’s live-game strategy pays off.
Disclosure: Andrew also writes about the CFL for Yahoo Canada Sports. He has not been involved in Yahoo’s streaming discussions.