March 10, 2016 Last Updated 9:08 am

Yahoo partners with the NHL to broadcast a ‘Game of the Day’ while expanding its board in anticipation of reverse spin-off

New partnership will result in up to four games being available through Yahoo – appeal will likely be limited as the NHL recently signed on with the company behind At Bat to relaunch their own app-based broadcast service

The online portal Yahoo today announced that it has swung a deal with the National Hockey League to broadcast free out-of-market games to online viewers.

There is, however, far less to this deal than at first glance it appears. Beginning March 11, Yahoo Sports will live stream an NHL “Game of the Day” and do this up to four times a week. That means that for most fans, it will be a random game that may, or may not, be of interest. Also, if the game features their team, but is being played at home, it will be blacked out.

Wednesday and Sunday national NHL games are currently promoted by Yahoo in partnership with NBC Sports Group.

NHL iPad appYahoo is trying to drive new advertising sales through the agreement.

“This alliance brings us one step closer to providing fans a live professional sporting event every day, on Yahoo, completely frictionless and for free – no cable subscription or authentication required,” said Phil Lynch, VP, Media Partnerships at Yahoo. “We remain committed to delivering the best digital content to our users and advertisers, and the NHL’s premium content nicely complements our offering of live and on-demand partner content, including Yahoo/MLB’s Game of the Day, Yahoo/NBC Sports content and our recently announced deal with the PGA TOUR.”

But Yahoo’s effort to grow this relationship is hampered by two factors.

First, the NHL entered into a six year deal last fall with Major League Baseball Advanced Media to have MLB’s technical publishing division manage its assets GameCenter Live, NHL Center Ice, NHL Network and The new venture resulted in a redesigned NHL app launched February 1 of this year.

The NHL went with MLBAM because of the success that company has had with its At Bat app (which, by the way, was recently updated for the new Apple TV). MLBAM revenues for 2015 were $800 million, with that expected to grow to $1.1-$1.2 billion this year, and the company is looking for new opportunities to use its expertise.

But, as anyone who has used the At Bat app will tell you, it has taken MLBAM a long time to make its app a winner. Since its launch, users have complained about slow streaming, glitchy service and bugs. The good news is that the app seems to have worked these things out and the new version is certainly impressive.

The new NHL app, it appears, will have to work out its own issues, too. User reviews are so far very mixed.

The second factor here involves Yahoo’s future: it is probably soon to be torn apart into two entities – one that owns the Alibaba stake, the other that owns everything else. Who wants to buy Yahoo, and for how much? Time Inc. was said to have looked at the black book on Yahoo, but my guess is that this was strictly out of morbid curiosity.

Today, Yahoo also announced two additions to its board, both of which are obvious nods to its future sale (or reverse spin off, if you will):

  • Catherine J. Friedman, former Managing Director, Morgan Stanley
  • Eric K. Brandt, former Chief Financial Officer of Broadcom Corporation

“Today we are expanding our board of directors with additional expertise to help advance our strategic goals as Yahoo continues its transformation. We are pleased to welcome Eric Brandt and Cathy Friedman to our board,” said Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo.

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