As the NFL continues to explore alternatives to the traditional television distribution of its games, big tech companies pay out the wazoo to get in on the action.
Not to be outdone by the likes of Yahoo (who they are in the process of acquiring), Twitter, and Amazon, Verizon Co. has decided to get in on the action, dropping $21 million for the exclusive rights to stream the Week Three matchup in London between the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars.
The NFL announced the deal in a statement this week.
“Verizon will be the NFL’s exclusive digital partner to deliver the live stream of the Week 3 International Series game in London to a global audience,” read the NFL’s statement. “The Baltimore Ravens – Jacksonville Jaguars game on September 24 from Wembley Stadium will be streamed live across Verizon’s portfolio of platforms including AOL, Fios, go90, and Complex. The game will also be made available on the NFL Mobile app (NFL.com/mobile) to Verizon Wireless customers, and the NFL app on Xbox One and Windows 10. TV access will be offered through an over-the-air broadcast in the Baltimore and Jacksonville local markets, as well as on Sky Sports in the U.K.”
That’s right: Verizon is dropping $21 million for a Jags game. And while the deal is “exclusive,” the game will still be shown on TV in the Baltimore and Jacksonville markets. You know, where the only people that want to watch the Jaguars are.
Additionally, things haven’t gone overly well with the live streaming so far. When Yahoo tried it out back in 2015, they paid $15 million to stream the Buffalo Bills and Jaguars game in London. They managed only around 2.36 million viewers, less than a fifth of the ratings games get on TV, and that was after some aggressive pushing and auto-playing of the game to basically anyone who got on Yahoo’s website. All the auto-play victims were counted in that number.
Twitter streamed 10 games last season, and Amazon is paying $50 million for 10 games this season. Vice president of the league’s digital media business development Vishal Shah believes that getting the games out over these platforms is critical to figuring out how to attract different groups of viewers.
“Are we reaching incremental audiences?” said Shah. “Are we reaching the millennial demo? What we want to continue to learn is who is consuming the live games.”
The league’s hope is that one day, Twitter, Verizon, and Amazon will be competing with NBC and FOX for the rights to primetime matchups. But, for now, the tech companies are stuck with the Jags and early morning games in London.