In February, you can watch the Super Bowl on your phone with the Yahoo Sports app.
Last year, Verizon purchased the mobile and tablet rights to the NFL games for Yahoo Sports. Live coverage of the NFL has drawn 4.3 million people to download the Yahoo Sports app this season, in addition to the 1.1 million people who downloaded the app during the playoffs last year, when Yahoo Sports piloted the mobile draw.
The average user checks a game a handful of times and watches for 44 minutes.
“On a Sunday at 3:27 pm I would know any game that started at 1:00 pm is in the fourth quarter,” said Geoff Reiss, general manager and vice president of Yahoo Sports, which is part of Oath, owned by Verizon.
So users register – and while they’re at it, they watch a few ads, with an average completion rate of 90%, according to Yahoo Sports.
Under the terms of the deal, Yahoo runs ads from domestic advertisers and sells the remaining portion of the ad space itself, attracting advertisers like Honda and Snickers. Advertisers cannot purchase an individual game, but those who purchase a strip of mobile ads to run during the playoffs will also have their ads displayed in the app during the Super Bowl, TV’s most prestigious programming event. .
The idea of a digital business getting a foothold in a tentpole game where a 30-second ad costs $ 5 million would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. Today, Yahoo is one of a crowded group of digital sports rights bidders.
Amazon broadcasts Thursday Night Football, like Twitter did last year. YouTube and Hulu offer live television, making sports streaming a reality. ESPN launched its own direct-to-consumer offering called ESPN + this year, which leverages its extensive library of sports rights.
“There is going to be an ongoing fragmentation of how sports rights are delivered to the market, which will create opportunities for emerging players,” said Reiss.
As sports rights become available for renewal, more and more of them will be reclaimed by digital players, he predicted.
Verizon didn’t write a big check to acquire the NFL’s mobile broadcast rights just for ads, however.
“The NFL is helping us drive up the funnel into the global ecosystem,” Reiss said.
This means reintroducing the Yahoo brand to a new generation. With 60% of viewers under the age of 40, the NFL is helping Yahoo attract viewers who may not remember when Yahoo was the first Internet portal.
The Yahoo Sports ecosystem is also growing. Yahoo has expanded into college fantasy football this year. Football fans take quiz questions in the weekly Yahoo Fantasy Slate mobile contest to win cash prizes in a HQ-like experience.
Yahoo has also created its own version of SportsCenter for the app called “The Rush”. The three-minute program worked so well that it inspired two spinoffs: one for fantasy sports players and another for sports bettors. Former NFL player Martellus Bennett also hosts the sports comedy show “Mostly Football”.
At the end of the football season, Yahoo plans to target basketball fans. Through an agreement with the NBA, app users can watch eight non-market basketball games on NBA League Pass before reaching the paywall and must subscribe to the premium offer.
Are more paid offers in the works at Yahoo Sports as the company tests a subscription version of Yahoo Finance?
“Absolutely,” Reiss said. “Our job is to make sure we have the right economic proposition. There isn’t a single financial use case that we want to pit against 13 million people. “
Just as theater producers try to “resize a house,” Reiss must determine what the “orchestra” and “balcony” experiences might look like for Yahoo Sports – and what each should cost.
Yahoo Sports’ big push into live sports comes as its parent company regroups. Oath lost its leader and name this year when Tim Armstrong left and Oath became Verizon Media Group. With Verizon’s vision focused on 5G, will the scale and ambition of Yahoo Sports’ plan slow down?
No, according to Reiss. Engagement and traffic are increasing year on year.
“Sport is an area of growth for the company,” he said. “We have more support than ever from our parent company to develop this business, and we believe we have deserved this investment. “