NBC Sports and Yahoo Sports have struck a broad digital partnership that will create by far the most highly-trafficked online sports destination in the country and calls for large amounts of content and sales collaboration. Announced by Bob Costas during last night's "Football Night in America" prior to NBC's Lions-Packers game, the deal builds significantly upon a prior alignment in which Yahoo served as a distribution partner for the online stream of "SNF." Yahoo will provide direct access to the NBC Sports Live Extra online video player providing live coverage of "SNF," MLS, EPL and the NHL Game of the Week. The two entities will collaborate on new original online sports video programming that will be distributed on both sites. Editorial content developed by each side will be distributed on the other's site, and Yahoo's investigative team will be featured on NBC TV. Yahoo-owned Rivals.com will power recruiting and college sports content for NBCSports.com, and NBC's RSNs will integrate Yahoo's team pages. Also, deep integration will occur between Yahoo's fantasy sports platform and the NBC-owned Rotoworld fantasy information site, with Yahoo gaining designation as the exclusive fantasy game partner of Rotoworld.
JOINING FORCES: The two sites will combine into a single entity for purposes of monthly reporting in the comScore rankings of U.S. sports sites, and the combined figure will likely have more than 50 million unduplicated unique visitors. To that end, the deal gives NBCSports.com a significant boost in traffic that was not going to be achievable organically. NBC Sports Group Chair Mark Lazarus said, "What we have in quality and quantity, we lack in scale outside of major events. Yahoo provides massive scale to our sports group. This is a competitive space, and we believe this will jump start us." For Yahoo, NBC provides a variety of exclusive video assets and TV exposure for its editorial talent not possible in its other various partnerships. Yahoo Head of Entertainment, Sports & Games Ken Fuchs said, "This seems like a real natural to come together like this. We really think one and one can equal three here." Fuchs added in a blog post, "It's better than the '86 Bears, the '93 Bulls, or the … well let's just leave the Cubs out of it for now." Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but revenue sharing is expected to be a major component of the alignment. NBC and Yahoo will each sell against the partnership. Both sites will continue to operate separately, and no significant staff changes are planned. The deal does not include anything relative to the Olympics, an interesting wrinkle given the heated traffic battle the two have had between NBC's exclusive rights and Yahoo's existing online scale. Radio assets also have been excluded from the deal. Yahoo and CNBC struck a similar deal earlier this year for the financial news vertical, and the run of partnerships is part of a broader Yahoo effort to build its brand through other media (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).
SO HAPPY TOGETHER: In N.Y., Brian Stelter wrote, "Though stopping far short of an actual merger, the two sides expect their traffic will be measured together in a way that solidly makes them the No. 1 sports Web site in the United States." Lazarus said measuring the two sites as one would "allow our sales force to walk into meetings with the ability to say we're the No. 1 sports site" (NYTIMES.com, 12/9). In Akron, George Thomas writes, "Looking at it from a distance, it's a win-win." The partnership "plays to Yahoo's strength." It is a "shot across ESPN's bow and a savvy move for both parties" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 12/10).