Verizon and the NFL have been bedfellows dating back to 2010, and until now, only customers of Big Red — the largest mobile service provider in the country — were able to stream pro football live from their mobile devices (categorized as devices with screens smaller than 7 inches).
Big change is on the horizon. On Monday, December 11, Verizon has announced the completion of a previously rumored deal that gives the company exclusive rights to stream in-market games live to any device, regardless of size (!) or mobile carrier (!!). The most obvious beneficiary of the deal — reportedly worth $2 billion over five years — is Yahoo, which Verizon purchased last year for nearly $5 billion (though the sum was reduced earlier this year following a series of hacks at Yahoo). In addition to the NFL mobile app and the go90 app, a Verizon property, fans will be able to stream games live via Yahoo.com or the Yahoo Sports app, even if they’re not Verizon subscribers.
The deal will take effect in January 2018, and includes the following contests, regardless of network: In-market Sunday games, nationally televised games (Sunday, Monday, and Thursday, preseason and regular season), playoff games, and even the Super Bowl, which is scheduled for February 4 this season. To view out-of-market games that aren’t nationally televised, you’ll need to go through a different channel.
Interestingly, Verizon has decided to sacrifice its exclusive rights to streaming NFL content in favor of a more holistic approach, perhaps designed to drive traffic to Verizon’s Oath subsidiaries (including Yahoo and AOL; Yahoo’s traffic has declined considerably over the past few years) while simultaneously building good faith among non-Verizon football fans. Given the NFL’s ratings crisis — the media-averse league (which still doesn’t allow highlights on YouTube) seems to be on the decline, compared to millennial-friendly leagues like the NBA — this could also signal intentions to reach a younger, more smartphone-dependent market.
The Yahoo Sports app is available on both iOS and Android devices, as are the go90 app (iOS here, Android here) and the official NFL mobile app (iOS here, Android here). You can also watch via the Yahoo or NFL apps on various streaming devices, like any Roku or the Amazon Fire TV. In addition to live game streams, the deal grants fans access to NFL highlights, weekly coverage, and “a robust set of jointly developed original content.”
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