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NFL, Yahoo Team Up for First Free Live-Stream of Regular-Season Game

The National Football League inked a deal with Yahoo to be the league’s exclusive partner to deliver the first-ever live stream of a regular-season NFL game — for free over the Internet — to users worldwide.

Under the pact, Yahoo will provide live streaming video of the NFL’s International Series game in London on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015, between the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars. The Internet-media company will offer the game on multiple properties and devices, including Yahoo, Yahoo Sports, Yahoo Screen and Tumblr, which collectively reach about 1 billion users per month.

The London matchup has lower value for TV networks, given that it will air starting at 9:30 a.m. ET. Still, the move marks a new step for the NFL in finding digital distribution partners for its most-valuable content — live games.

The NFL has, through broadcasting partners including NBC and Fox, offered the Super Bowl free to Internet users in the U.S. But the Yahoo pact is the first regular-season game to be available to a national audience on a digital platform. The league began shopping the rights to the game to Internet companies in February and reached out to players including Google, Apple and Amazon before clinching the deal with Yahoo, Sports Business Journal reported.

“Through this partnership with Yahoo — one of the world’s most recognizable digital brands — we are taking another important step in that direction as we continue to closely monitor the rapidly evolving digital media landscape,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer added, “We’re thrilled that the NFL has chosen Yahoo for this historic opportunity. It marks a significant change in the way users can access this amazing content.”

Meanwhile, the NFL will make the Bills-Jaguars game available in the teams’ local markets via CBS affiliates, televising it in Buffalo on WIVB-TV and in Jacksonville, Fla., on WTEV-TV.

For Yahoo, the NFL pact is part of its three-pronged video strategy revolving around live events, long-form original series and shortform content pegged to its digital magazines.

On the live front, Yahoo announced a deal for a live electronic-music competition series with Simon Cowell (“The X Factor”) serving as executive producer as well as plans for “Superfan Live,” a series of aftershows pegged to popular TV series, at its Digital Content NewFront presentation in April. Yahoo also has deals to live-stream concert video with Live Nation and several music festivals.

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