Verizon on Monday announced it has signed an unprecedented deal with the NFL that allows it to live-stream all in-market and national NFL games on Verizon-owned media properties like Yahoo Sports and AOL, on mobile phones—regardless of mobile network.
Previously, Verizon live-streamed NFL games only to Verizon subscribers, over the NFL Mobile app. Now football fans can stream games using the smartphone apps of Verizon media properties, for free, whether their mobile carrier is Verizon or not.
The games Verizon can stream will include national preseason games, in-market regular season games, playoffs, and the Super Bowl.
The new deal lasts through 2022 and begins in January 2018, in time to stream this season’s NFL playoffs on Yahoo, Yahoo Sports, Verizon’s video platform go90, and the NFL Mobile app. (Verizon is the parent company of Yahoo.)
As part of this deal, Verizon will offer mobile access to NFL highlights, and create jointly developed original NFL content.
“To go to Yahoo Sports now via your mobile device and be able to watch any game,” Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam said on CNBC on Monday, “is something no one else offers. This is our first step in building this as a sports pillar of the company.”
The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, though it has been widely reported that the deal is worth $2.5 billion, or $500 million per year. That’s double what Verizon was paying for its previous streaming arrangement.
For Verizon, it is a big bet on a sport and a league that is No. 1 in the country but shows signs of wavering. Television ratings for the league are down 8% on average this year through 13 weeks, and political controversy has cast a pall over this season.
The NFL has slowly, over time, offered more streaming options to partners. In 2014, Verizon began streaming games for free in the NFL Mobile app to its own wireless customers. In 2015, Yahoo paid to offer the first global, free live-stream of a game from London. And this season, Amazon is streaming 11 Thursday Night Football games.
What does the new streaming deal mean for you? On a Sunday afternoon, you can watch your local market game (the “in-market” game) on Yahoo (and other properties) on your phone, for free. The same goes for the Sunday night, Monday night, and Thursday night national games. (You will still not be able to stream an out-of-market Sunday game, such as the Patriots vs Broncos on a Sunday at 1pm if you live in New York City.)
“We see more and more of our fans moving to new devices, particularly phones, to get our content,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said on CNBC.
Verizon says its NFL content will reach more than 200 million total unique visitors (on mobile and digital) per month across Verizon and Oath, its media division.