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Is Yahoo’s NFL Telecast a Sign of the Future?

Jason Barrett

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Television has done as much for the NFL as any professional sports league, but the relationship may be a little different after Sunday.

For the first time, the NFL is offering a regular-season game exclusively on the Internet. Well, folks in Buffalo and Jacksonville still can watch the Bills-Jaguars game on traditional TV, but others — even subscribers to DirecTV’s “Sunday Ticket” — will have to use their computers or mobile devices.

The 9:30 a.m. telecast from London is free and available on Yahoo.com, which will distribute the telecast on every platform imaginable. It will be produced by CBS, which has assigned the announcing team of Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon and Jamie Erdahl.

To get a better idea of the implications of this venture, we reached out to Ken Fuchs, vice president of Yahoo’s media network, for insight.

Q: Do you consider this a historic moment for the Internet, broadcasting a live NFL game exclusively?

A: Not just for the Internet, but for the sports industry and the live broadcast industry, this is the first time there’s ever been a live, free, all-access, global broadcast of an NFL game. That’s a big thing considering the reach of sports, the reach of Yahoo and the popularity around every game that happens.

Q: What would be considered a success to you?

A: First and foremost, we want to provide a great experience for NFL fans and anybody who tunes in. We want to have the highest technical quality around the experience. We want them to feel like it’s an NFL broadcast in many respects.

Secondly, we do want to deliver a live experience that’s scaled to a big audience, and, thirdly, we have a lot of great advertising partnerships that we want to provide a really strong experience around as well.

Q: You have a lot of subscribers already, but did you have to do any additional reinforcement to make sure you could handle the potential volume of traffic?

A: No. Considering that every month we’re delivering content and video to a billion people around the world and 600 million or more on mobile devices, we’re always looking at how to ensure our structure is strong, that we’re delivering against whatever the experience might be, in this case, a live broadcast. It’s something that we spent extra time ensuring that we’re prepared. We understand the deliverables that we need to have at our end to ensure that a high, high number of people can come in and watch it.

Q: Do you look at this as a beginning of what you hope will be a partnership with the NFL?

A: We’ve had a longstanding partnership with the NFL in a number of different areas, video space and other ways. We value that partnership quite a bit. Our mutual success around that partnership is what led us to this moment. It wasn’t something that just came out of the blue. Going forward, based on the success we have around the game, both parties will look at it as, “What can we do next?”

Q: Looking at it from the NFL’s standpoint, is the way we’re consuming NFL games changing pretty quickly? In 5-10 years, will television not be the No. 1 distributor of NFL games?

A: There’s a lot of trends happening that are starting to shift more and more rapidly. You have, for the first time ever, a decline in cable subscribers. You have a millennial generation that is spending more time consuming video on the Internet than they are on actual traditional television. You are starting to see a lot of success with over-the-top (OTT) delivery of a wide variety of content types, from music, like we do with “Live Nation,” to over-the-air programming to live sports.

Live sports has always been a little bit of a bellwether because of the power that it brings and the fact that it’s feneral and the fact that it’s very social. The NFL is a bellwether for sports in this country. This is something where we think that there’s a transition that’s rapidly starting to happen. Everybody sees that happening, and we’re excited to be at the forefront of pushing it into that direction even more aggressively.

To read the rest of the interview visit the Times Union where it was originally published

Sports TV News

The NFL Still Considering Multiple Offers For Sunday Ticket

The NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has not bid for the package but has stated it is willing to partner with the new rightsholder for a potential deal.

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Sunday Ticket Negotiations

DirecTV currently has the rights to Sunday Ticket. That deal expires at the end of this upcoming football season. The NFL is expected to make a boatload of cash when they decide which media organization gets the next rights to the package. The only question is… who will that be?

Alex Sherman of CNBC reports that the NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has decided not bid for the package. However, they are interested in partnering with the new rightsholder for a potential deal. DirecTV knows that Sunday Ticket is a staple in bars and restaurants and is interested in maintaining those relationships.

Outside of the bar/restaurant industry, success has been limited for the satellite provider with the football package. Fewer than two million subscribers signed up for Sunday Ticket each year which made the package a money-loser for the satellite TV provider.

According to the report, the NFL wants more than $2 billion for the rights and a stake in NFL Media, which is being packaged with Sunday Ticket. Also on the table is the NFL’s mobile rights. The league’s previous mobile agreement with Verizon has ended.

An interesting piece of the negotiations is Sunday Ticket price. According to the report, a buyer would have limited flexibility on pricing. The NFL signed contracts with CBS and Fox and within the framework of those deals, language mandates Sunday Ticket have a premium price. That’s to prevent loss of viewers from the networks that feature local market Sunday afternoon games. So essentially, the price is the price for the consumer.

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Sports TV News

F1 Renews With ESPN For U.S. Media Rights

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

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F1 ESPN

The racing series F1 has decided to stick with ESPN through 2025.

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

The reported value of the three-year contract is set to pay F1 $75-90M per year for the U.S. media rights. Amazon had offered to pay roughly $100M per year, with the right to sublicense to a linear broadcast network. Comcast’s offer was similar to ESPN’s in terms of value and the structure. They also wanted to put select races on it’s streaming service, Peacock.

Netflix was in on the negotiations, as well. The makers of Drive to Survive, the streaming series that many credit with the sport’s explosion in popularity in recent years, wasn’t close on on their financial offer. Also, it seems F1 executives were not ready to put all of its races on a streaming service just yet.

Currently, F1 receives $5M per year for ESPN to broadcast it’s races. ESPN has grabbed about 1.0 million viewers per race. That makes F1 a more than viable option for the network to invest into again. ESPN will be able to put a small number of races on its ESPN+ streaming service exclusively. The vast majority being on ABC or ESPN.

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Sports TV News

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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