When Yahoo kicks off its global online streaming of the Bills-Jaguars game from London on Sunday, it will mark the first time a non-TV media outlet has "aired" an NFL game. And while that's an interesting marker in the evolution of the industry, it's also an important financial marker for Yahoo. Can the company make money (or at least come close to breaking even) when it streams a professional sports game?
While it's not known exactly how much Yahoo paid the NFL for the global streaming rights to the one-off game, some estimates have placed it at more than $20 million. Sports Business Daily has just released some figures on the company's success with advertisers ahead of Sunday's game. And it's fair to say that based on those numbers, this is probably an idea that is a work in progress.
According to SBD, Yahoo has signed up more than 30 advertisers for the game, including Applebee's, Cadillac, Microsoft, Chrysler, Subway, T-Mobile, esurance and Kohl's. Toyota will be the primary sponsor of the game's halftime show and Dairy Queen will sponsor the pregame program.
But while the list of advertisers is impressive, Yahoo did apparently have to cut their asking price for the spots. Yahoo was reportedly originally asking about $200,000 for a 30-second spot, but it has dropped the price to about $50,000. Sources tell SBD that some spots are still available, although it's not known how many remain unsold.
These numbers are especially important given that Yahoo revealed earlier in the week that it lost at least $42 million on its slate of original television programs, which included a new season of the NBC comedy COMMUNITY. That loss prompted Yahoo to pull the plug on its planned expansion of original video content.
"We thought long and hard about it, and what we concluded is (for) certain of our original video (series), we couldn’t see a way to make money over time," company CFO Ken Goldman told investors during Tuesday's third-quarter earnings call. "We’re not saying we’re not going to do these at all in the future. But it didn’t work the way we had hoped it to work, and we’ve decided to move on."
The NFL has stated it plans to offer a small number of individual games to non-television outlets in the future. But given the tough financials, it's a big risk for any media company right now.