(Reuters) - Yahoo Inc has dropped the price of advertising for its first Web-streamed National Football League game on Sunday from an early price of $200,000 to less than $100,000, two media buyers familiar with the situation told Reuters on Wednesday.
The match between the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars in London on Sunday will be the first free global live stream of an NFL game, making it a test case for a media industry eager to tap online audiences.
Yahoo declined to comment on ad prices but noted that Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer in an earnings call on Tuesday said that Yahoo had sold out all game day advertisements.
The price cut, made over several months, reflected the broad uncertainty about how many people would tune in, especially in the United States, said the media buyers, who requested anonymity because they work with Yahoo.
"This is an experiment of sorts," said eMarketer analyst Paul Verna. "To have something out in the open available for anyone to stream with any device on an ad-supported basis is a sign of things to come."
Advertisers are very interested to see not only how this one game goes in terms of viewers but if it results in future partnerships between the NFL and Yahoo or its competitors.
Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo is streaming the International Series game from London at 2:30 p.m. local time, or 9:30 a.m. EDT. The timing makes it less attractive for U.S. brands because it is too early for most West Coast viewers, although international brands may be more open, the media buyers said.
Moreover, fans in the game's local markets of Buffalo and Jacksonville will be able to view it on television through their CBS affiliates.
Yahoo is guaranteeing advertisers 3.5 million streams in the United States, the sources said. If the game does not achieve that goal, the advertisers were promised spots on Yahoo that would be targeted to those viewers, the media buyers said.
While that is an attractive offer given how large Yahoo's platform is and how targeted it can be with its ads, some advertisers bristled at the possibility of paying "NFL premiums" for non-NFL advertising spots, the media buyers said.
Reporting by Jessica Toonkel in New York; Editing by Peter Henderson and Lisa Shumaker