The gridiron is coming to Yahoo in October, the company and the National Football League announced on Wednesday.
On October 25, Yahoo, Yahoo Sports, and Tumblr, among other Yahoo properties, will be the exclusive online streaming home to a game between the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars. The game, which will be played in London, will air at 6:30 a.m. PT. It'll only be available over broadcast networks in Jacksonville, Fla., and Buffalo, N.Y.; all other viewers will only be able to watch the game on one of Yahoo's properties. Yahoo viewers will not have to pay to see the game.
The game is a landmark for both Yahoo and the NFL. It'll be the first game ever streamed exclusively over the Internet. It also will not be aired on the NFL Network, which has long claimed to be the destination where football fans can watch every regular season game.
NFL announced its intentions in March, saying that it would offer exclusive streaming rights to a single company. At that time, the NFL was unsure whether viewers would need to pay to watch the game and which online firm would step up. Several reports suggested at the time that Facebook and YouTube were interested in acquiring the streaming rights, but Yahoo swooped in.
Although terms of the deal were not disclosed, Recode reported Wednesday, citing people who claim to have knowledge of the discussions, that Yahoo paid "at least" $20 million to stream the game and will generate all of the revenue off of its advertising. Those sources said at least one other major Internet company vied for the streaming rights, but fell short.
Exactly what kind of impact the game will actually have on the future of streaming and football viewers, however, is unknown. This will be the only game in 2015 that will be streamed exclusively over the Internet, and the NFL has not said if it will offer another streamed game in the future.
What's more, the NFL has lucrative, billion-dollar contracts in place with traditional television networks, including Fox and CNET parent company CBS, until 2022, likely leaving a large-scale streaming initiative off the table for that period.
For Yahoo, however, the effort is part of a broader turnaround strategy by CEO Marissa Mayer. During her tenure at Yahoo, Mayer has implemented a strategy focused on major acquisitions, like the $1.1 billion Tumblr deal in 2013, and building out the company's content offerings. A key component in that effort has been to boost its news team, adding several well-known journalists, including Katie Couric.
Ultimately, Mayer has told investors that the combination of compelling content and high-profile journalists will help Yahoo drive more people to its sites and thus, boost its ad revenue -- the lifeblood of its business.
Over the last year, however, some investors have started to question Mayer's strategy as the company's revenue and operating profit have continued to decline. In 2011, the year before Mayer took over, Yahoo generated an operating profit of $800 million on nearly $5 billion in revenue. Last year, the company could only muster a $143 million operating profit on $4.6 billion in revenue.
For her part, Mayer has said that growth is on the horizon, but so far, those predictions haven't panned out, and some have questioned how much longer investors are willing to wait.
In a statement on Wednesday, Mayer called the NFL deal an "historic opportunity" for her company, but she didn't provide details on how Yahoo plans to profit off the deal. Yahoo declined to comment on the terms of its NFL arrangement.
The NFL did not immediately respond to a request for comment.