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YouTube’s CEO would ‘love to stream the NFL’

The company has bid for NFL streaming rights two years in a row. It lost both times.

A Philadelphia Eagles football player scores a touchdown by leaping football-first into the end zone.
The Philadelphia Eagles score a touchdown in Super Bowl LII
Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

For two straight years, YouTube has bid on the rights to stream NFL games. For two straight years, YouTube has lost.

But it sounds like Google’s giant video platform would love to see the third time be the charm.

“I’d love to stream the NFL,” YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said in response to a question during Recode’s Code Media conference in Huntington Beach, Calif., on Monday evening.

Wojcicki went on to say that she couldn’t speak to specific business deals or potential ones, but was comfortable laying out the pitch for why YouTube should be an attractive home to big live sporting events.

That pitch centered mainly on YouTube’s scale — 1.5 billion logged-in users visit YouTube each month — and that the company has seen millions of viewers tune in at one time for live events such as the recent SpaceX rocket launch.

Wojcicki said her platform could also add specialized features, such as e-commerce functionality to sell sports merchandise.

Two years ago, Twitter won the rights to stream a slate of Thursday night NFL games. Last year, Amazon stepped in as the digital streaming partner for “Thursday Night Football.”

But for the NFL, size of the audience does matter. An average of about 370,000 people watched Amazon’s first broadcast of “Thursday Night Football” in 2017. A year earlier, Twitter reached an average of around 240,000 viewers for their first NFL airing.

If YouTube can make the case for reaching a lot more viewers, Wojcicki could get her NFL wish.

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