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The Real Numbers and Story For Yahoo’s NFL Experiment

Jason Barrett

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The NFL swelled with pride Sunday with the technological success it had in distributing one of its 256 regular-season games on the internet through a partnership with Yahoo. That game, Buffalo versus Jacksonville in London on Sunday morning, drew a total of 33.6 million “streams,” according to Yahoo and the NFL, and 15.2 million unique visitors.

But what we learned later on Monday diminished the impressiveness of those statistics, and resulted in a bait-and-switch feeling to the original numbers trumpeted by the NFL and Yahoo. A stream actually counted if viewers stayed on the game for more than three seconds. And in order to buttress the overall numbers, Sports Business Journal reported, anyone who clicked on Yahoo’s web page once the game kicked off had the game start on autoplay, resulting in a “stream,” whether the visitor had any intention of watching the game or not. In other words, anyone who landed on Yahoo.com between 9:30 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. Sunday, unless he or she was remarkably nimble and could leave the site in less than three seconds after logging on, was counted as someone who “streamed” the football game. That lands somewhere between disingenuous and outright misleading by Yahoo and the NFL.

The way American television networks judge an audience for a game is by something called “minute ratings,” which measure the ratings of a telecast minute by minute over the course of the entire game. The ratings bodies take the total number of minutes of the game—say, 180 minutes for a three-hour game—and divide that by the number of viewers minute-by-minute. That’s a good measure of who watched the game, and for how long.

In the U.S., Sports Business Journal reported, the “minute rating” for Bills-Jaguars was 1.64 million viewers, though that does not include the over-the-air TV rating of viewers from Buffalo and Jacksonville markets, which got the game on local network affiliates, the only markets to be able to see the game on home television.

The previous Sunday morning London game this season—Dolphins vs. Jets in Week 4—dwarfed the rating of Sunday’s game. According to Nielsen, that game had 9.86 million viewers.

And not to confuse you … but comparing a game broadcast on television in the No. 1 and No. 16 markets in the country—New York and South Florida (total TV households: 9.03 million)—to a game on the internet between two struggling teams in the No. 47 and No. 53 markets—Jacksonville and Buffalo (1.25 million households)—is fraught with inequities, to put it mildly. Suffice it to say, a game on TV in 9 million TV households should crush a game streamed on computers between two of the NFL’s bottom four markets.

Not that ratings were the driver of why the NFL experimented with Buffalo-Jacksonville on the internet. This was primarily the NFL announcing: “Hey, we’ve got a real game on at 9:30 Sunday morning, and log on to Yahoo.com to see it instead of watching your TV,” and judging whether, technologically, the web could handle it. And it could. In markets where the internet was shaky, the picture was shaky. In markets like mine (Manhattan) the picture was mostly vivid. And it was also about seeing whether those around the world would log on and appreciate it. My take, from e-mailers to The MMQB, is that the global village appreciated the free look at the NFL, though many already had the ability to see games in some way or another.

So I still believe it was a success, but I do think the NFL and Yahoo should have leveled with consumers regarding the real numbers of how many people watched the game.

To read more visit Peter King’s MMQB which originally published this story

Sports TV News

FOX Sued for Patent Infringement Over NFL Scheduling

“Recentive Analytics filed suit against FOX in a Delaware federal court on November 29 according to Yahoo Sports.”

Jordan Bondurant

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An analytics company is suing FOX over claims that the network developed a mapping tool using their patented technology to create a season slate of NFL games.

Recentive Analytics filed suit against FOX in a Delaware federal court on November 29 according to Yahoo Sports.

The lawsuit claims FOX used access to Recentive’s predictive analytics tools to develop a resource of their own that would create optimal schedules for its 1 and 4 p.m. NFLwindows.

The company is seeking a declaration that FOX infringed on two of its patents. Recentive is also suing for damages and wants an injunction keeping FOX from using Recentive tech and preventing the network from “selling, offering for sale, marketing or using any internal network and mapping analytics tool for the scheduling and regionalization of events covered by the patents.”

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Sports TV News

FOX Will Use Chris Fallica On Belmont Stakes Coverage

“While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.”

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The Bear will be more than just a college football presence when he moves to FOX. Chris Fallica wrapped his final duties for ESPN last week and is now headed to a new network and will tackle some new responsibilities.

Fallica’s new role at FOX will involve plenty of sports gambling content. Richard Deitsch of The Athletic reports that content will include horse racing.

“One Fox Sports source said look for him to appear on the Belmont Stakes coverage,” Deitsch wrote in his weekly media column.

Starting in 2023, horse racing’s Triple Crown will not be seen all in one place. While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.

How the network intends to use Chris Fallica on the broadcast is not clear. Given that he is coming to the network to contribute to gambling conversations, it is likely he would either be making picks or at least reviewing odds right up to the start of the race.

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Sports TV News

NBCUniversal CEO Expects Disney To Buy Company’s Hulu Stake

“Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal.”

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The Walt Disney Company owns 67% of Hulu. The other 33% is owned by NBCUniversal. The latter company doesn’t expect that to be the case forever.

“It’s worth a lot of money,” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said at an investor conference earlier this week, “and I think there’s no indication that anything else is going to happen than Disney writing us a big check.”

Hulu is primarily a platform for movies and television shows. It is a major part of Disney’s deal with the NHL though. The streaming giant is part of the package of 103 games that are exclusive to ESPN and ABC. Hulu is also a live TV provider for many. The company’s Hulu Plus Live TV package had over 4 million subscribers as of the summer of 2022.

Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal. He credits sports and content migrated from Hulu as the reason Peacock has grown to 18 million paid subscriptions since September.

Deadline reports that if Disney does want to acquire NBCUniversal’s stake in Hulu, “the price could fluctuate but will be in the tens of billions of dollars.”

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