Congrats, Yahoo! You Just Bought the Worst NFL Game of the Season!

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So the NFL has managed top sell off the WORST game of the entire schedule, in London, at 9 a.m., for a reported $20 MILLION to Yahoo!

Oh, and the only two markets that MIGHT give a crap about that game – Jacksonville and Buffalo – aren’t included. Those markets get to just turn on the TV.

Now that’s a sweet trick the shield has pulled off. A virtual on-line bidding war, for football games that are getting more and more overexposed by the year. Google, Amazon, and Apple were all supposedly bidding against Yahoo for these rights. All of them have more money to waste on things like Matt Cassell vs. Blake Bortles!

So let’s see, Yahoo is willing to pay for this game so they get “eyeballs” and “increased traffic?” Are they going to be allowed to sell their own ads on-top of the CBS package that will be seen on OTA TV?

How many people does Yahoo! think are going to care about this game?

I would bet a Grumpy Cat Very Special Catsmas would get as many eyeballs, and cost well south of $20 million. But what do I know, right? I mean Yahoo! is the company that’s paying $5 MILLION a year to Katie Couric to produce web interviews that aren’t even coming close to making money.

I understand that TV and the web are merging by the day, but this smells like bad business for Yahoo! in the short run, and perhaps the NFL in the long run. Yahoo! won’t make money on this game, and I’d bet against them winning any sort of bidding war for an “on-line Sunday Ticket” with the likes of Google and Apple.

Meanwhile, the NFL is risking further marginalization of its product. If Jags-Bills from London can rob a bank for $20M in broad daylight, what about the temptation to see what Pittsburgh-Green Bay might make to offer it up only in the web? $50M? $100M?

Maybe, and it would be a relatively easy money grab.

But it would also peel away all of the casual viewers that the NFL is absolutely KING at brining to the set. Folks like my mom and dad, who I can assure you are not going to stream a football game on their laptop or tablet.

Most other sports are already “hard core” in nature. In that they have shed for good, the “casual” fan. The NBA playoffs only reside on network TV once we get to the Finals, and baseball’s broadcast partner Fox doesn’t want any more product to show – in fact, they’d prefer LESS!

The NCAA Final Four is now a cable-only thing every other year, and the new college football playoff is an ESPN thing.

If I were the NFL, I would want to hold on to my status as the last sport that can dominate NETWORK ratings (not cable) and try to avoid the perception that a football game is just another “thing on the internet” – like “Hilarious Dad Fall on Boat” on YouTube.

 

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Steve Czaban is a 25 year sports radio veteran, who hosts an afternoon drive show in Washington D.C. "Czabe" also writes and edits his own commentaries for www.czabe.com and other on-line and print publications. He can be reached at czabe@yahoo.com.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Czabe: I’m shocked by your reaction to this. You, Mr. Technology, have turned into a Luddite on this technology advance?? Can’t hardly believe it. Some thoughts:
    A) That game (Bills-Jags) may not be as bad as you think. Remember, in the NFL, you can’t tell who is going to be bad next season by who was bad last season.
    B) It’s going to be broadcast on Sunday morning in the states. No competition with other games. Of course people will watch it.
    C) I get that your mom and dad are not going to stream this game on their iPad. Guess what – they’re not the target audience. Plenty of millenials, Gen X’ers, etc will watch on their Google machines however.
    D) Never underestimate the gamblers and fantasy football geeks. They’ll watch on their Bat-phones, if, in fact, Bat-phones existed (someone’s working on that, right??)
    I’m guessing that Yahoo and the NFL will end up pretty happy with the deal. I’ll bet you even sneak a peak yourself!

  2. Yahoo is about where AOL was at the end of the 1990s. They’re sitting on a huge pile of tech-driven stock valuation, but they know that their core business has been overtaken and will be obsolete soon. Their search engine is a dinosaur, the only part of their business worth a damn is YAhoo Sports, driven by fantasy football.

    So if they can get a piece of the watch-sports-on-the-web market, there’s some benefits there. (Can they get a slice, competing with ESPN3 and WatchESPN, MLBAM, and longer term with the watch-online sections of NFL.com, NBA.com, NHL.com? I doubt it)

    So they’re scrambling to turn their temporary cash and stock-value into permanent value, AOL convinced Time Warner to hand over half of their company for magic beans, but Yahoo hasn’t found a similar pigeon.

    Worse for them, their technology is poor. I’ve been watching, or trying to watch, Community on Yahoo Screen, and it’s terrible. Community is fine, but Yahoo Screen is terrible. The sound and video buffer and freeze at diferent rates, it’s not easy to pick the episode you want. And I’m not trying to watch Community at the same time that millions of others are watching.

    The money is trviail for Yahoo–this is a proof-of-concept for getting them into the live-sports-internet business.

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