American football league the NFL is planning to live stream all three International Series games scheduled to be played in London next season, with technology giants Apple and Google in contention for the rights, according to Reuters.
The news agency, citing two sources familiar with the situation, said the NFL is keen to build on this season’s successful live streaming trial with internet company Yahoo.
The NFL reported that more than 15.2m unique viewers tuned in for the first global free-to-view live stream of a regular-season game on October 25. The Buffalo Bills v Jacksonville Jaguars International Series game at London’s Wembley Stadium was streamed live on Yahoo and online blogging website Tumblr.
More than 460m minutes of the game were streamed, with 33 per cent of the streams coming from outside the US. Viewers from a total of 185 countries watched the action. The game attracted an average audience of 2.36m viewers.
Apple owns the Apple TV platform and Google owns video-sharing service YouTube. If Apple or Google win the rights to stream one or more games, it would be a first for either company. Reuters said it is unclear if the NFL is seeking to sell the rights to stream all three games as a package or individually, or how much the league is asking for the rights.
The three games scheduled to be played in London during the 2016 season are the Indianapolis Colts versus the Jacksonville Jaguars on October 2, the New York Giants against the St Louis Rams on October 23, and the Washington Redskins versus the Cincinnati Bengals on October 30. The Giants v Rams game will mark the league’s first game at Twickenham Stadium.
The NFL is also currently marketing its Thursday Night Football rights package, with Reuters stating a deal is expected to be concluded by the Super Bowl on February 7. For the past two years, CBS has won one-year deals for broadcast rights for Thursday Night Football, and the network is bidding again, along with the Fox Sports division of the Fox network.