Yahoo has a big problem with this Sunday’s NFL stream

October 23, 2015, 6:38 PM UTC
Operations At The Yahoo! Inc. Data And Customer Center Ahead Of Earnings
A Yahoo! fantasy football jersey hangs next to a workspace in the Global Service Desk area of the the company's Lockport Data Center in Lockport, New York, U.S., on Friday, Sept. 26, 2014. Yahoo Inc., a $40 billion Web portal, is expected to release third quarter earnings on Oct. 21. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photograph by Bloomberg via Getty Images

Yahoo this Sunday will be the semi-exclusive home of an NFL game, making it the first time that America’s most popular pro sports league will rely mostly on a streaming platform to broadcast a game. The trouble is that it’s a game that virtually no one will want to see outside of the home markets of Buffalo and Jacksonville, which will be the only two places where the game will still be available via regular television.

Buffalo has a record of 3-3, and looks like it’s on its way to a league-leading 16th straight season without a postseason berth. Jacksonville is even worse at 1-5, and hasn’t made the playoffs since 2007. In other words, fans of other teams won’t “stream in” to see how the competition is faring, particularly given that the game is being held in London at 2:30 pm local time, which translates to 9:30 am on the East Coast.

Perhaps more importantly, there may not be a worse game out there from a fantasy sports interest perspective.

Daily fantasy sports lineups change each week based on specific match-ups, so we won’t know ownership percentages until Sunday. But we can look at last week’s DraftKings data to find that only one player participating in Buffalo vs. Jacksonville was among the 20 most-owned players. That would be Jags wide receiver Allen Robinson, who was owned by 16.82% of owners.

Jacksonville wide-out Allen Robinson came in at quarterback Blake Bortles was only owned by 5.92% of players (#31 overall), while Buffalo had no players in the top 50. In fact, Buffalo only had two players in the top 100, and one of them (Sammy Watkins) will be inactive this week.

Yes, there will be some daily fantasy interest, but not too much. Particularly among players on the West Coast who would need to wake up at 6:30 am on a Sunday to watch.

And that could be a big problem for Yahoo (YHOO), given that it reportedly has promised advertisers 3.5 million U.S. streams (and already cut its ad rates by 75%). For the NFL, however, it’s the best of both worlds. If Yahoo proves it can handle the tech load, then the NFL can feel comfortable auctioning off similar rights in the future. If Yahoo fails, then the NFL can rest assured that relatively few people noticed in real time.

Note: An earlier version of this story used outdated fantasy ownership data.