Verizon is expanding its agreement with the NFL so even people using other cellphone carriers can watch games on the Yahoo Sports mobile app, the league announced Monday.
Verizon has been the exclusive mobile operator for NFL games since 2010. The new agreement, which spans the 2022-23 season, will make games available to users of other carriers using Verizon’s Yahoo platform. Verizon completed its $4.5 billion acquisition of Yahoo in June.
Beginning with the 2018 playoffs, Yahoo users will receive nationally broadcast NFL games offered on Thursday, Sunday and Monday nights, as well as their local market games.
Verizon will nearly double its NFL rights fee to $400 million to $500 million a year, an indication that demand for league content is still robust despite declining ratings and bad publicity due to brain injury controversies and player protests during the national anthem before games.
Verizon was in the final year of its current deal with the NFL, which cost the carrier about $250 million a year and made games available only to its mobile customers.
Although traditional NFL game ratings are down for the second year in a row, streaming of games by younger viewers is on the rise. Young viewers are increasingly dependent on digital devices for video content.
“We are committed to fans to make Verizon’s family of media properties the mobile destination for live sports,” Lowell McAdam, president and CEO of Verizon Communications, said in a statement. “The NFL is a great partner for us and we’re excited to deliver its premier content at scale on mobile so viewers can enjoy live football and other NFL original content wherever and however they want. .”
Verizon’s deal is a taste of the kind of competition the TV networks and ESPN will have when their current deals with the NFL are renewed in 2022.
Amazon is currently the non-exclusive outlet for “NFL Thursday Night Football”. The online giant paid $50 million for the rights, five times more than Twitter paid the previous year.