Terms were not disclosed for the new deal, which takes effect in January. Compensating for the loss of exclusive wireless rights will be an expanded presence for games on Yahoo Sports, an early pioneer in live-streaming games that is now owned by Verizon. The action will also be on Verizon’s OTT service Go90 and the NFL’s mobile app.
“We’re making a commitment to fans for Verizon’s family of media properties to become the mobile destination for live sports,” said Lowell McAdam, chairman and CEO of Verizon. “The NFL is a great partner for us and we are excited to take its premier content across a massive mobile scale so viewers can enjoy live football and other original NFL content where and how they want it. We believe that partnerships like this are a win for fans, but also for partners and advertisers looking for a mobile-first experience.”
“Verizon has been a key NFL partner, both in the distribution of games on NFL mobile and as a sponsor, since 2010 and we’re thrilled to be both extending and expanding our relationship with them,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “Our expanded partnership with Verizon is great for our fans. Starting with the upcoming playoffs and for seasons to come, live NFL action directly on your mobile device – regardless of carrier – will give millions of fans additional ways to follow their favorite sport.”
The NFL has explored streaming with growing interest over the past couple of years, with Amazon locking up Thursday night rights this season, following Twitter’s debut last year. When major TV contracts come up for renewal in 2022, major tech players are seen as serious contenders for the rights.
Ratings for games on linear networks have tumbled this year as the league has faced a range of controversies, including anthem protests, and also the limits of its own expanded footprint. With prime-time games now airing three nights a week, on top of the traditional six-hour block of Sunday afternoons, there is a widely held belief that the game has over-stayed its welcome.