Yahoo has signed a deal with the National Hockey League, under which the Internet company will deliver a selection of live, out-of-market hockey games — for free.
Beginning March 11, Yahoo Sports will live-stream an NHL “Game of the Day” to hockey fans in the U.S., up to four days a week, along with delivering in-game highlights for each game. Yahoo, in partnership with NBC Sports Group, currently promotes Wednesday and Sunday national NHL games broadcast by the Peacock (but Yahoo doesn’t stream those games).
The deal runs through the end of the NHL’s 2017-18 regular season. MLB Advanced Media handles the NHL’s TV and streaming distribution operations, under a six-year pact the two leagues announced last year.
In addition, under the pact Yahoo will provide condensed NHL games, “Best of the Day” and “Best of the Week” top plays and postgame highlights. Yahoo Sports will continue as the league’s official fantasy sports partner.
“This alliance brings us one step closer to providing fans a live professional sporting event every day, on Yahoo, completely frictionless and for free — no cable subscription or authentication required,” said Phil Lynch, Yahoo’s VP of media partnerships, said in announcing the NHL deal.
Last fall, Yahoo became the first digital outlet to exclusively stream an NFL game, an event that drew 15.2 million viewers over the course of the game.
Given its appetite for live sports — even as it retrenches in other areas of its media operations — Yahoo may be in the running for the NFL’s over-the-top streaming rights starting next season, anchored around “Thursday Night Football.” But it will face competition from others eager to land the property, including Facebook, which confirmed its interest in an NFL OTT deal this week. Verizon and Amazon are also entering serious bids, according to industry sources.
Yahoo Sports’ other live and on-demand sports content include MLB’s Game of the Day and coverage from the PGA Tour.
Yahoo is selling the video advertising inventory for commercial breaks in the NHL games, as it did for the NFL webcast last October. The company said it will offer brands new ways to connect directly with sports fans around live video programming.