What if I told you the future of sports will unfold when the Jaguars take on the Bills on October 25, 2015 in London, England.
No, its not the setup for a terrible 30 for 30 film, and taken out of context you’re probably calling me a crazy person. These franchises own a combined zero Super Bowl championships in four tries (the Bills famously lost four straight in the 90s), more frequently deal with relocation rumors than selling playoff tickets, and kickoff at 9:30 am EST that day. But in 2015, these two teams will face off in a match-up that will be streamed live for free around the globe.
The NFL’s first soiree into free online broadcasting is a big deal. Networks such as ESPN have had success broadcasting sports online through web and phone applications, but doing so typically requires a paid subscription plan. Introducing free sports into the conversation obviously has a significant impact on the future of TV, and you can bet online streaming players like Netflix and Hulu will be watching to see how this all plays out. The marketing enthusiast in me could go on and on about how sports are the premiere advertising outlet because it is arguably the only TV event that is still consistently watched live, and how this game could be the start of a significant shift in television advertising.
But I write a sports blog, and in my opinion, the most interesting opportunity here lies with Yahoo, who paid what is rumored to be north of $20 Million for the right to stream one game on its website. While currently its online TV platform is limited to a few TV shows and news clips, Yahoo will have an opportunity to revolutionize the way sports, and specifically the NFL, are watched at home.
Us fans are always looking for ways to feel that we are a part of the game, a part of the team. It’s why we so hastily throw around possessive and collective nouns like “we” and “us” and “our” when referring to a sports franchise we do not own. It’s why we literally throw our body around for a Baseball that can’t cost more than $5 to make. And it’s why we play Fantasy Sports.
Fantasy Sports has become a Billion Dollar industry in the United States. We can’t seem to throw enough money at fantasy sports whether its long 162 game baseball seasons or single day Basketball lineups. But still the ultimate amongst American fantasy sport participants is football, with 11 of the 15 Billion in fantasy sports revenue flowing towards football.
Enter Yahoo, one of the biggest fantasy football players, with an extremely unique opportunity to create the ultimate fan experience. An experience where you log in to the online stream with your yahoo account, leading to your fantasy lineup scrolling across the bottom, adding points live as your wide receiver strides down field heading for the end zone. Or maybe allowing you to lock in on screens showing your fantasy team’s players at all times they are on the field. Or even having a live-look in screen in the corner showing your players from other games around the league. The possibilities are endless, and after paying such a pretty penny for this chance, Yahoo must have something big planned.
So we’ve gotten to a point where I’m writing these words… I can’t wait for the Bills and Jaguars to square off. Don’t screw this up Yahoo.