Verizon has just renewed its contract with the NFL to the tune of a reported $500 million per year for the next five years. But this time, Verizon subscribers aren’t the only ones who will get to stream games from their smartphones.
As part of the new deal, Verizon will broadcast in-market games across a number of its platforms, including Yahoo Sports, AOL, and Go90, with those streams available to all mobile users regardless of carrier. That includes tablets too, with multiple reports saying that Verizon expects to have the expanded service up and running by January 21 at the latest — just in time for the conference championships.
Viewers won’t be able to watch every game on the go, as DirecTV is still the exclusive home for all out-of-market games through the 2022-23 season. That means if you're a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, but you live in Miami, you're able to stream Dolphins games through Verizon's platforms, but you'd have to turn to DirecTV to catch you're favorite team. In other words, if you wouldn’t be able to watch it on TV, you won’t be able to follow along on your phone. Fortunately, that won’t matter much entering the playoffs, as even the Super Bowl will be streamable via Verizon’s apps.
The decision to offer NFL games to everyone, even if they're using a rival carrier, might seem counter-intuitive to Verizon’s interests, considering how hard Big Red has pushed football as a perk for its customers dating back to the start of its partnership with the NFL in 2010. However, this move charts Verizon’s transformation from telecom to media powerhouse. Verizon clearly wants to give a boost to the Oath brands like Yahoo and AOL that it recently bought.
To accomplish that, it can’t merely rely on streaming games on Thursdays, Sundays, and Mondays alone. Verizon says it will supplement its live NFL coverage with highlights and original programming, even during the offseason. That will include “jointly-developed in-stadium experiences,” according to the announcement, which sounds an awful lot like virtual reality. However, all content outside of the games likely won’t kick off in earnest until the 2018 season.