By Deborah M. Todd
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Yahoo Inc has entered into a partnership to stream live National Hockey League broadcasts, part of its push to use sports to draw in millennial viewers and the advertisers who want to reach them.
Starting with Friday's match between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Tampa Bay Lightning, Yahoo will provide access to live games that are outside a viewer's home market, game highlights and additional content for free on the Yahoo Sports homepage and on Tumblr.
Yahoo will stream four NHL games per week. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Yahoo also has a separate deal with NBC Sports to stream two additional games per week.
Adam Cahan, Yahoo's senior vice president of mobile and emerging products, said the deal helps advertisers reach millennials, an elusive demographic, as they are unlikely to see games on TV due to shifting viewing habits.
The effort is also an attempt to build off of Yahoo's first-ever global live stream in October of an NFL match played in London. Yahoo guaranteed advertisers 3.5 million viewers for that event and delivered around 15.2 million.
Since then, the NFL has opened up discussions with Yahoo and several other Internet companies to live stream all three games broadcast in London during the 2016 season.
Yahoo has used momentum from that broadcast to secure streaming deals with Major League Baseball, the Professional Golf Association and competitive video gaming organizations.
With the company in the process of spinning off its core business - which includes its Web sites and email service - and a possible sale of that business afterward, Cahan said the new advertising streams could be helpful to that effort.
"We're excited we can bring those kinds of unique experiences to users and can bring it at the scale Yahoo can deliver," he said.
Neil Doshi, a managing director at Mizuho Securities, said the deal could improve Yahoo's sale prospects with private equity firms or organizations without sports broadcast packages, but it doesn't guarantee a huge bump in its valuation.
"If they got FIFA, NBA or NFL, I think those would have a little broader appeal than just hockey," he said.
(Editing by Stephen R. Trousdale and Edwina Gibbs)