The first free globally streamed NFL regular season game provided a major stress test of over-the-top streaming video technology, as well as valuable information about global demand for such an offering.
The Sunday, October 25 game yielded more than 33.6 million total views and attracted more than 15.2 million unique viewers across the spectrum of connected devices on Yahoo and Tumblr, Yahoo said. It was the first time viewers worldwide could watch an NFL regular season game without cable, authentication or TV. In all, viewers streamed more than 460 million total minutes of the game, which saw the Buffalo Bills play the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium in London. One-third of all streams originated internationally from 185 countries. More than 30 top brands pitched in advertising dollars and content to help Yahoo produce the historic digital media sports event.
Yahoo and NFL
“It’s been a great opportunity to partner with the NFL and deliver a truly exceptional global live streaming experience for our users,” Adam Cahan, Yahoo’s SVP of Product and Engineering, was quoted in a news release. “We’re seeing a dramatic shift in the industry as audiences’ primary video watching moves away from TV. We were thrilled to join the NFL in setting a new standard for sports programming for our users and advertisers.”
The NFL was apparently very pleased as well. “We’re thrilled with the results of our initial step distributing an NFL game to a worldwide audience and with the work of our partner, Yahoo,” NFL SVP, media strategy, business development and sales Hans Schroeder added. “We are incredibly excited by the fact that we took a game that would have been viewed by a relatively limited television audience in the United States and by distributing it digitally were able to attract a global audience of over 15 million viewers.”
Yahoo’s content delivery network held up well under the strain, Yahoo added. Delivering more than 8.5 petabytes to end users, the stream reached HD levels of resolution with an average re-buffering ratio of nearly 1 percent. Max bit rates came in at more than 6.74 Mbps and 60 frames per second. Ending after three hours 15 minutes of play, the Jaguars defeated the Bills 34-31.