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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

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Skip Bayless Says He And Stephen A. Smith ‘Sorted Out’ Their Disagreement

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

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Skip Bayless

Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless were locked in a war of words last week following the First Take host’s appearance on JJ Redick’s Old Man and the Three podcast.

The origins of their partnership were discussed and Bayless admitted he did not like the way Smith characterized the state of First Take before he arrived on set. Smith insisted that Bayless simply misunderstood what he meant by saying that he was told the show needed him.

Over the weekend, Skip Bayless says he and Stephen A. Smith got together at the Bayless home in California to talk things out in private.

“He was in LA, he came over, we sat by the pool,” he said on the latest episode of The Skip Bayless Show. “It wasn’t the easiest conversation for a while, but we slowly but surely sorted it out. We got through it, and we have been through so much together.”

Bayless reiterated that he considers Smith a brother. They love each other. That doesn’t mean they are always going to remember events the same way or see eye-to-eye all the time.

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

Fighting doesn’t mean the relationship is fractured. In fact, Skip Bayless was adamant that he remains closer to Smith than he is to most people in his life.

“I don’t trust easily because of the way I was raised, but I do trust Stephen Anthony Smith. Trust him with my life. Always have and always will. I trust he will always be there for me, and you better believe I will always be there for him.”

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FOX Sports VP: ‘USFL Proves Spring Football As Valuable As Rising Properties’

“We want to show we belong in that category, and I think that happened.”

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Michael Mulvihill says the USFL accomplished exactly what FOX needed it to. It proved there is a large enough audience for spring football that it has a value on par with some of the hottest properties in sports media right now.

 “All we wanted to do is demonstrate that spring football can do viewership at the levels of Premier League, NHL regular season, Formula One or MLS,” the FOX Sports Executive VP said according to Sports Business Journal. “We want to show we belong in that category, and I think that happened.”

While none of those properties are pulling in the kind of media rights money the NFL or major college football is, Mulvihill pointed out that all of them have been in the news for the right reasons.

“You’re talking about properties that have all recently negotiated deals at substantial increases, or with F1, people know it’s about to.”

The USFL had a solid broadcasting footprint with games airing on FOX, NBC, FS1 and USA. Regular season games for the first year of the revived league averaged just under 700,000 viewers.

Mulvihill said fans behaved exactly how he expected them to in the first season of the USFL. Without any team loyalties, he isn’t surprised that people watched less of an average USFL game than they did the NFL or college football.

The USFL Playoffs begin this weekend. Canton, OH will host the league’s first championship game on July 3.

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Pelicans Extend Deal With Bally Sports New Orleans

“The deal will also put the team on the new Bally Sports+ streaming service, which had a soft launch earlier this week.”

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Sinclair has reached an agreement on a new rights deal with the New Orleans Pelicans. Bally Sports New Orleans will remain the team’s local TV partner. 

The deal will also put the team on the new Bally Sports+ streaming service, which had a soft launch earlier this week. The service rolls out in full this fall. 

“When we constructed this new agreement with Bally Sports New Orleans the main priority was distribution and the ability to deliver our games directly to our fans,” Dennis Lauscha, President of the New Orleans Pelicans, said in a press release.  With the upcoming launch of Bally Sports+, Bally Sports’ direct-to-consumer platform, any Pelicans fan will be able to have access to Bally Sports New Orleans in the team’s local territory. This partnership allows us to continue to deliver unique, compelling Pelicans content across multiple platforms with the highest production quality. We are still working every option with Bally Sports New Orleans to improve the accessibility, ancillary content and distribution of Pelicans programming to all of our fans across Louisiana and the Gulf Coast region.”

Bally Sports New Orleans will carry around 75 regular season games per year. The network will also produce first round playoff and preseason games.

“The New Orleans Pelicans have been a great partner over the years and we look forward to building this relationship into the future,” added Steve Simpson, SVP and GM of Bally Sports New Orleans. “Our ability to deliver Pelicans content to as many local fans as possible, on both linear distribution channels and the all-new Bally Sports+ streaming product this fall, is incredibly exciting as we continue to grow the next generation of Pelicans fans.”

The Pelicans did look at new media partners before re-signing with Bally Sports New Orleans. Karen Brodkin, Executive Vice President of Endeavor, who the team hired to consult the process, noted that the existing relationship and the addition of a proprietary streaming platform for Sinclair made the difference.

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