Why Yahoo!'s Streaming of an NFL Game for Free Is a Big Win for Marissa Mayer

 

NEW YORK (TheStreet) --Yahoo! (YHOO) getting an NFL game to stream for free on the web is an important moment for football fans, the tech world and the National Football League all together.

But it doesn't mean it's going to be THE savior for Yahoo! or its investors.

It's long been known that the NFL has longed to have a game away from the traditional outlets, like CBS, NBC, Fox and ESPN. Commissioner Roger Goodell went so far as to have a meeting with Google (GOOG) (GOOGL) CEO Larry Page at a conference two years ago, potentially putting games on YouTube, when rights to NFL Sunday Ticket were up for grabs, before the NFL and DirecTV (DTV) agreed on a deal.

Even though the game, set for Oct. 25, is a poor quality game (at least in my not-so-humble Patriots fan opinion) with the Buffalo Bills facing (*cough* losing *cough*) off against the Jacksonville Jaguars, it's a huge coup for Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer and her team.

It'll generate a lot of buzz for Yahoo! and its video efforts, which have had mixed results at best, despite Yahoo! and Mayer putting forth some serious effort with things like Yahoo! Screen, reviving the TV show Community and broadcasting music concerts thanks to a deal with LiveNation.

NFL fans have longed for a day when they could watch NFL games on the web and not have to worry about having cable, an antenna or go to a bar. Now all they need is an Internet connection, thanks to Yahoo!.

Yahoo! reportedly paid $20 million for the streaming rights for the game, a pretty penny when you consider the two teams involved.

Even though Yahoo! has exclusive ad rights for the game, according to Re/Code, it's not exactly a marquee match-up, like the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants or the "I'm a giant homer for the best team ever" New England Patriots. These are among the league's best franchises, while Buffalo hasn't made the playoffs since 1999 (Music City Miracle anyone?) and Jacksonville is having problems locating the field (there's a reason they're always picking in the top 5).

Whether Yahoo! can handle the traffic for the game, which is slated for 9:30 A.M. EST and 6:30 A.M. PST, remains to be seen, given the novelty of the event. I know that I'll be watching, and likely, plenty of my football-adoring friends and relatives.

Mayer and her team have taken more than their fair share of lumps for spending on content (Katie Couric doesn't seem to be working out too well), acquisitions and not growing the core-business to the satisfaction of Wall Street. Given this news, Mayer and team aren't going to go down without a fight.

For that, there's only one word to say -- Yahoo.

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