The NFL is notably stingy when it comes to its broadcast rights, but later this year, the nation’s top football league will expand its distribution network onto at least one new platform. On October 25th, the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars will face each other in London as part of the NFL’s International Series, and Yahoo will live stream the game across four different properties.
Broadcast networks like CBS, FOX, and NBC have already provided free live streams for important games like the Super Bowl, but this will be the first time a digital video site airs an NFL game. Beginning at 9:30 AM EST, viewers who navigate to Yahoo, Yahoo Screen, Yahoo Sports, and Yahoo-owned Tumblr will be able to watch the game live.
The early start time is likely a critical part of the NFL’s decision to lend some broadcast rights to Yahoo. The league has deals in place with CBS and FOX that allows them to broadcast Sunday games in 1 PM EST and 4 PM EST slots, but the International Series games, which start early due to the time difference between the US and UK, live outside of that schedule. Therefore, the October 25th matchup will only air on terrestrial TV in Buffalo and Jacksonville; fans outside of those areas will have to head online to view it, which is where Yahoo enters the equation.
“The NFL has always been committed to being at the forefront of media innovation,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “Through this partnership with Yahoo—one of the world’s most recognizable digital brands—we are taking another important step in that direction as we continue to closely monitor the rapidly evolving digital media landscape.”
Yahoo may be the first digital media company to snag a piece of NFL action, but several other platforms have attempted to get into the game as well. Google once hinted at the possibility of streaming the NFL Sunday Ticket package online, though that deal never came to fruition. More recently, the NFL struck video deals with YouTube and Facebook that included in-game footage. The Yahoo deal is the latest example of the league’s softening stance on online content, and it’s a big win for football fans who want to spend an even larger larger portion of their Sundays glued to the screen.