December 13, 2017
Verizon Communications inked a deal valued at more than $2 billion with the National Football League, to show NFL football games on its mobile network, Yahoo, Yahoo Sports and go90 mobile platforms. The telecommunications giant will make Monday, Thursday and Sunday night national games available on its smartphone apps regardless of carrier, as well as playoffs and Sunday afternoon games from a user’s home market. National games, except Sunday afternoon games, will also be available on tablets.
The Wall Street Journal reports that sources disclose the agreement will run for five years, and “Verizon’s annual rights and sponsorship fee to the National Football League will rise from its current $250 million to more than $450 million.” The partnership will take effect in January “with the postseason, when games, including the Super Bowl, will be expanded to Verizon-owned platforms like Yahoo and Yahoo Sports.”
Verizon will “no longer have exclusive mobile rights to distribute national and in-market games to its wireless customers,” but the company was willing to give that up “in return for NFL content for its other platforms.” Since Verizon acquired Yahoo for $4.5 billion, providing content for this and other platforms is its new focus.
“We want to be the first screen for live sports,” said Verizon senior vice president/global chief media and content officer Brian Angiolet, who added that the company will “continue to be aggressive in its pursuit of sports for its platforms.”
The games, free to watch, will be ad-supported. For NFL, the mobile rights deal is a win, given that it has suffered two straight seasons of declining ratings. “We have been confident in the value of our content,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Verizon also “receives commercial inventory to sell on its platforms as part of the contract and will remain an official sponsor of the NFL.”
Cord-cutting viewers won’t need to depend on Verizon to watch NFL games. This season, Amazon paid $50 million for the rights to stream 10 Thursday night NFL games to Prime members. “It was important to us to make our games more accessible to our fans,” said Goodell. “Verizon understood we needed to go cross-carrier.”
Next up for negotiation is the Thursday night package, currently shared by Comcast’s NBC, CBS and the NFL Network, as well as Amazon.