On Sunday, Yahoo livestreamed the NFL game it acquired for about $17 million by putting it on the homepage of its website and setting to autoplay. The livestream drew 15.2 million unique viewers overall, but only averaged 2.36 million viewers throughout the game, significantly less than what NFL games usually get on TV. While no major disruption or technical issue occurred during the game, Yahoo’s livestream received mixed reviews from the viewers, who took to Twitter to voice their dissatisfactions, mostly over the fact that they couldn’t watch it on TV.
All things considered, Yahoo’s livestream of the Bills-Jaguars game is a well-executed experiment that the NFL tried in order to gauge the viability of broadcasting its content online. Judging by the largely mixed results, it looks like the ecosystem of sports watching – where many viewers still prefer to watch it on TV either in sports bars or at home – has yet to catch up with the TV industry’s shift towards OTT viewing. The average viewership number suggests that moving sports event online is still at least a few years away from reality.