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By John Ingoldsby
NEW YORK – The NFL’s grand experiment of live streaming a game for the first time ever may someday be viewed as the day that opened the floodgates to a new way for the world to watch football.
Just three days after the Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Buffalo Bills in London, Hans Schroeder from the NFL and Ken Fuchs from Yahoo Sports, which carried the game, provided their early feedback to an audience attending the annual Sports Business Journal’s Sports Media & Technology conference.
The duo deemed the breakthrough broadcast viewed by approximately 15 million people worldwide as a win, which Schroeder summed up by saying, “It was a resounding statement of success and overwhelming reaction with most everyone saying what we wanted to hear, ‘Wow, it looks like TV.’”
As the Senior Vice President of Media Strategy for Business Development and Sales, Schroeder said he watched the game with a large group of colleagues in a conference room at the NFL’s New York headquarters.
“We had about 30 devices, including tablets, phones, and PCs, with Commissioner Roger Goodell connected in as well,” stated Schroeder. “It was great, and the quality of the video was remarkable, and we were all very excited in the room and felt good about it.”
Importantly, the excitement beyond the room and around the globe was equally upbeat, with Fuchs, the Vice President and Group Lead of Yahoo Sports & Finance and Product Partnerships, saying, “We reached every part of the Globe with one-third of the viewers being international in 185 countries.”
Schroeder added, “Ultimately, this will make a difference in how we think about game distribution, with the most exciting aspect being the opportunity to enjoy watching live sports on digital.”
The game itself, which was produced by CBS for Yahoo Sports, also helped as the third-ever 9:30 am EST start time kicked off a competitive 34-31 game that captured viewers’ attention.
“The early-morning is an interesting time slot that holds an appeal here, but of course it’s prime time for instance in Eastern Europe,” said Schroeder. We only had one commercial break in the third quarter so we received significant feedback that it felt like more action, and our only regret was that there was no overtime.”
Now, with the game over, what comes next?
“We have a lot to think through and a lot of work to do as we build off the real insights we received from the scale and size of digital,” Schroeder said. “We learned that this is a real and viable experience that is out there for viewers, and we are excited that we can unlock an even bigger audience for NFL football worldwide.”