Yahoo and the NFL completed their first-ever free worldwide broadcast of an NFL game this morning, and it had, from a fan’s perspective, its share of successes and failures.
First, the good:
- Absolutely zero ads for either Draft Kings or Fan Duel. NFL game broadcasts, pregame, postgame, SportsCenter, and highlight shows on all networks have been inundated with daily fantasy ads ad-nauseum. Evidence of both companies seemed to have erased from existence during the three hours or so of today’s game, and I’m pretty sure that American viewers rejoiced at this. There weren’t even little DK or FD logo on the score ticker on the bottom of the screen. I did see one ad for Yahoo Daily Fantasy in the first quarter, but other than that, there were just the usual commercials for insurance companies.
- My stream never once crashed. I was expecting problems with the web-based platform, but they never materialized.
- It was like watching a normal CBS NFL broadcast – with fewer commercials. CBS/Yahoo omitted one commercial break per quarter, which did shorten the game and make the broadcast appear more smooth, especially to a non-American sports fan who may be more used to a soccer broadcast which may not break until a half is over.
Now, the bad:
- Not all ISP’s and WiFi signals are created equal. My stream definitely looked like it was an internet video as opposed to a satellite broadcast. The picture would continually alternate between perfect and fuzzy, and once froze mid-play in the fourth quarter during a critical juncture in the game. It corrected itself, but it was distracting from the game itself. Also, I’m sure that people living outside of major metropolitan areas had their own issues with the signal (I know I did).
- The game was not able to be DVR’d. Since this was a webcast only, with the exception of the Buffalo and Jacksonville areas, the broadcast could not be recorded and watched later. Not everybody has off work on Sundays, nor are they free of other obligations such as errands or families. My brother had to work today, and he won’t be able to watch this game at all unless NFL Network is able to replay it this week.
- DirecTV Sunday Ticket subscribers still had to stream the game on the web. This is my third year subscribing to NFL Sunday Ticket. I do so for the sole purpose of watching sixteen Buffalo Bills games a year. I have been a Bills fan my entire life, but have never lived in the Buffalo market. While growing up, I got to see maybe six or so Bills games a year on local broadcast, so I really look forward Sundays now. I don’t watch RedZone channel, or stream games on my phone or laptop. Today’s broadcast was a detriment to my enjoyment of watching the Bills on Sunday. I was forced (I know, “forced” is a harsh term, but watching the Bills is how I want to spend my Sunday) to watch a sub-par quality internet broadcast when I paid $250 of my hard-earned, teacher-salary money for the right to watch EVERY GAME on TV. DirecTV should no longer be able to advertise that they carry every game.
The Verdict: Web streaming is a nice idea, it really is. I know that this was an experiment by Yahoo and the NFL, and that they picked the Jacksonville-Buffalo game because it was being played overseas at an odd time (9:30 ET, 6:30 PT) and that it would normally probably attract the least amount of viewers of any game this week. This should be thought of on an optional basis, not as the only way fans should watch the game. From the perspective of an out-of-market fan watching their favorite team, I came away feeling put-out, and that the NFL doesn’t care about keeping my business.