Yahoo NFL draft 2

Following last year’s NBA draft show, Yahoo has done streaming shows for other events like NBA free agency. Now, they’re doing one for the NFL draft, providing live coverage on both Day One and Day Two. And unlike both ESPN and NFL Network, Yahoo says they may break some news of picks before they’re officially announced.

Mike Hill will host the Day One coverage from Yahoo’s studios in New York Thursday starting at 8 p.m. Eastern, with Charles Robinson, Pat Forde, Tank Williams, Brad Evans, Brandon Funston, Matt Kelley and Tony Siragusa also contributing, and Eric Edholm reporting live and interviewing players from the draft in Philadelphia. On Day Two, they’ll have an all-fantasy focus from 7 p.m. – 8:30 Eastern with Liz Loza, Andy Behrens, Scott Pianowkski and Dalton Del Don as well as Evans and Funston. Yahoo Sports executive producer Alan Springer spoke to Awful Announcing about the show, and said the NBA draft show’s reception (3.7 million total views) led to them doing this for the NFL draft.

“After the success of the The Vertical’s NBA Draft Show last year we realized there was definitely a market for our type of livecast of the NFL draft,” Springer said. “Our approach to these types of programs is to differentiate ourselves from the traditional TV broadcasts, to produce the show the way the fans watch and talk sports with their friends, to offer things you can’t find anywhere else and to be available to reach our broad audience across all of Yahoo’s platforms.”

He said a key lesson from the NBA Draft coverage is that their coverage can be a primary source for fans, not just something they’re also looking at on a second screen. And they’ll be looking to be a key source for breaking news (which was also an emphasis with the NBA show), including potentially announcing picks before NFL commissioner Roger Goodell does if they know them.

“The biggest thing we learned from the NBA Show is that a digital show isn’t limited to being a ‘second screen’ experience,” Springer said. “It can be the ‘first screen’ experience. We are the first place the fan can go to get breaking news accurately and in real time. We can announce a pick before the commissioner does–if we know the pick–and supply strong, informed opinion with no holding back. We approach these drafts and events with the voice of the fan in mind. Plus the players’ voices. We can be casual, monitor what social media is saying, be informative and insightful, laugh and overall livestream a viewer experience the fans are talking about.”

Springer said they won’t be focusing exclusively on tipping picks, but they will focus on what their reporters hear.

“Revealing picks before the official announcement will not be the focus of this NFL draft show, though we will go strong on what our reporters are hearing ahead of time,” he said. “We will break news and give you insight from our top writers, Charles Robinson and Pat Forde. We will view the draft from the fan perspective. We will keep it fun with candid opinions from the ‘Players Lounge’ with former Super Bowl champion Tony Siragusa and Tank Williams. Look for our deep-dive inside the draft’s analytics from our friends at Player Profiler. Plus we will be live with cameras and reporting from the fan zone at the NFL Draft in Philly, plus top draftee interviews and, of course, fantasy instant reactions and advice from Brad Evans and Brandon Funston.”

The Day Two coverage will take those fantasy reactions and advice to a new level, focusing primarily on fantasy impacts of the drafted players. Springer said that’s a fit for Yahoo’s substantial fantasy audience.

“A core part of the Yahoo Sports business going back to the early days has always been our fantasy products,” he said. “We launched the first-ever live online fantasy football show, Fantasy Football Live, 11 years ago and we continue to build on and cater to our loyal fantasy audience. Our Day One coverage has a big component of fantasy in it with our award-winning fantasy writers Brad Evans and Brandon Funston on the program. Day Two will feature Evans and Funston, plus Liz Loza, Andy Behrens, Dalton Del Don and Scott Pianowski. Most offensive players who could get drafted on Day Two will have a fantasy impact and we know it’s our obligation to fantasy users to instantly provide the knowledge for how or why they these players should be drafted on your fantasy team for next season.”

The NBA draft show wound up pulling in 3.7 million total views, 2.8 million uniques, and 34 minutes of average watch time. Srpinger wouldn’t commit to a target audience for this NFL show, though, saying it’s a different audience.

“The format and the audience for our NFL Draft show is different from what we did and saw with the Vertical’s Draft Show. While we’re not sharing our internal projections publicly, we are excited to see who comes to watch our show and how they respond.”

Here’s a video promoting their draft coverage:

It will be interesting to see how this does. Yahoo has some experience in these kinds of shows now, but the NFL draft’s a new step for them, and they’ll be facing fierce competition. Both ESPN and NFL Network go in heavy on the NFL draft, and Sports Illustrated has also announced that they’ll be partnering with Pro Football Focus for a draft show (which will also feature West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen and offensive coordinator Jake Spavital). And there are plenty of others producing NFL draft coverage too. We’ll see how much of an impact the Yahoo show makes, but it’s certainly notable that they’re approaching this with a news focus, and that they say they won’t hold back on picks they know to wait for the made-for-TV announcements, unlike ESPN and NFLN.

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.