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NFL Games: Coming To Your IPad

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The NFL, ever on the lookout for an enhanced revenue stream, is about to stick its toes into the digital videostream.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

This October you will be able to watch the Buffalo Bills-Jacksonville Jaguars NFL game from London on any mobile device you own - for free. The fact that you don't care to do any such thing is of little concern to the NFL.

The League is joining Yahoo for the first-ever livestream of an NFL game. The contest will run across Yahoo properties globally, making the game available to more than 1 billion monthly users.

For the NFL it is an experiment into the burgeoning field of digital livestreaming, as well as getting a handle on the potential audience for American football in the rest of the world.

Yahoo won out over several other bidders for the single feed, including Google. No one is saying publicly how much Yahoo paid, but it is suspected to be in the $10-15 million range.

Yahoo will sell video ads and sponsorships to be placed in and around the game and keep the revenue.

The NFL is once again leading the way for other leagues (and colleges) as they explore the next big revenue stream.  Live sports are driving advertising dollars everywhere - just ask ESPN, and everyone is trying to figure out how to leverage new technology as it unfolds at warp speed.

I actually think that the NFL is using this game, and perhaps their Thursday Night Football lineup, as a stalking horse, to help gauge how to maximize the revenue from livestreaming without destroying their broadcast deals with CBS, NBC and ESPN.

Currently, the networks own the digital rights to most NFL games through the early 2023. However the Thursday night package is year-to-year and the NFL might open the bidding up to those who would pay for both broadcast and livestreaming rights.

The piggybank may not have reached peak capacity just yet.