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NFL to live stream Bills-Jaguars on Yahoo! for free

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The NFL is providing a regular season live stream via Yahoo!. This will be something interesting to track as the league potentially moves further into the online stream arena. They are making enough from this that it will encourage more such efforts.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL has taken a big step forward in the move to live-streaming more games online. The league announced on Wednesday that they have sold the live stream rights to Yahoo! for the October 25 Buffalo Bills-Jacksonville Jaguars matchup in London. The game will air for free across the world, and will also air on broadcast television in Buffalo and Jacksonville.

The folks at Re/code (disclosure/modest brag: recently acquired by Vox Media) are reporting the deal cost Yahoo! at least $20 million. In exchange for that, Yahoo! gets exclusive ad rights for the game. There is no word on what Yahoo!'s stream will look like, but I imagine there will be all sorts of advertising both on the tool used to stream the game, and during commercial breaks.

The NFL has been fairly slow in unveiling their product via online streams. Sunday Night Football was made available on NBCSports.com, and the league has slowly added the Super Bowl and other playoff games. This marks the first attempt at a generally stand-alone online broadcast. I know plenty of people are open to the idea of online options for viewing games. Plenty of people use illegal websites to stream games, but plenty of those same folks would be excited about a more regular online option. I'm not expecting anything soon for the entire league, but this is a good sign.

And for Yahoo!, it gives them a chance to see how this monetizes. They are paying big bucks, but exclusive ad rights could be quite valuable for this London game. Re/code is reporting at least one other tech company was in on the bidding.

The game is set to broadcast at 9:30 a.m. ET, which means an ugly 6:30 a.m. start time on the west coast. While Yahoo! should get plenty of viewers in the US, this also might be more about cashing in on a curious European NFL audience. I am very curious to see the ratings on this one given the teams involved.