Broadcast the NFL and viewers will come — to their smartphones, tablets and computers as well as their TVs.

Yahoo and the National Football League say that more than 15.2 million viewers went online to watch Sunday’s livestream of the game between the Buffalo Bills and the Jacksonville Jaguars from London’s Wembley Stadium.

That viewership for this first free, global Net broadcast of an NFL game amounted to a larger audience than on average for a Monday Night Football broadcast (13.5 million) and a bit less than Thursday Night Football (17.6 million), the NFL says. Had the Yahoo-NFL stream been a TV audience it would have been among the Top 10 shows of the week in the U.S., the NFL says.

But this worldwide broadcast drew one-third of its audience from outside the U.S. Viewers in more than 185 countries tuned in as the game racked up more than 33.6 million views through Yahoo and Tumblr apps and sites.

Yahoo, which reportedly paid as much as $20 billion for the rights to the game, said it sold all the ads for the broadcast to more than 30 advertisers.

During the three hour and 15 minute game, Yahoo delivered more than 8.5 petabytes of data — or 1 million gigabytes — to viewers. Some viewers had issues with the broadcast — freezing video or no video — but most seemed to have a satisfactory experience.

“It’s been a great opportunity to partner with the NFL and deliver a truly exceptional global live streaming experience for our users,” said Adam Cahan, Yahoo’s senior vice president of product and engineering, in a statement. “We’re seeing a dramatic shift in the industry as audiences’ primary video watching moves away from TV. We were thrilled to join the NFL in setting a new standard for sports programming for our users and advertisers.”

Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider

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