Google Adds NFL In-Game Highlights to Search Results

Part of Broader Strategy to Keep People on Its Site

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Google is adding National Football League in-game highlight videos to the top of its search results as part of an expanded partnership with the league.

Videos will be embedded along with related news and information into boxes that will appear at the top of Google search results while games are in progress, the company said Thursday. Instead of forcing people to go to a website, Google is bringing the in-game highlights to its own page.

"This expansion of our partnership will make it easier than ever for the millions of highly engaged avid and casual fans on YouTube and Google to discover and access an even greater variety of some of the most valuable content in the sports and entertainment business," Hans Schroeder, the NFL's senior VP-media strategy, business development & sales, said in a statement.

The move is part of a broader strategy by Google to show more information and add tools to its search results pages to keep people on its site, rather than send them to other parts of the web. Serving up information quicker, with fewer clicks required, is key for the company's efforts to keep smartphone users searching and engaged in Google's other web services, such as YouTube.

The NFL garners more U.S. TV viewers than any other professional sports league, though it trails soccer on a global basis. CBS and Comcast's NBC agreed to pay about $225 million a season for the right to broadcast five Thursday games over the next two years, and Walt Disney's ESPN pays $1.9 billion a year for the rights to air Monday night games, as well as highlights.

Eager to lure those viewers and top advertisers, Twitter won the rights to stream 10 Thursday night games during the 2016-17 season. Google, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook have all made deals to bring NFL content to their services.

The NFL's YouTube channel, which has a shade more than 1 million subscribers, already carries in-game highlights, as well as previews and recaps of those games. As part of the expansion of the partnership announced Thursday, the league also will post three of the most memorable games in the history of each of the 32 NFL teams to its YouTube channel prior to the start of the 2016-17 season. Google didn't say whether it paid the NFL for this partnership extension.

-- Bloomberg News

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