Verizon, NFL expand partnership to stream all games to phones
Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) has signed a new multi-year agreement with the National Football League to stream all regular season and playoff games to mobile phones. The new deal will kick off in tandem with the 2014 NFL season.
Verizon Wireless first signed on as the NFL's exclusive mobile media partner and official wireless service sponsor in March 2010, filling roles previously assumed by Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S). The current incarnation of Verizon's NFL Mobile application streams NBC's marquee Sunday Night Football telecast, ESPN's venerable Monday Night Football franchise, the NFL Network's Thursday Night Football slate and the NFL RedZone network, which delivers every touchdown and key play from Sunday afternoon's action. The expanded partnership will enable Verzion to stream all other regular season games aired on CBS and Fox, including playoff games and the Super Bowl.
While Verizon will not offer access to all NFL matchups until the fall of 2014, the operator will roll out a revamped NFL Mobile app in time for the upcoming 2013 season. The overhaul will add improvements and enhancements to the app's existing streaming video, news and stats, also adding on-demand video featuring analysis and inside access from NFL Network and NFL Films as well as access to fantasy football updates and related media. NFL Mobile is available for Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS, Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android and Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone.
Verizon Wireless declined to comment on whether future NFL streaming video efforts will leverage its LTE Broadcast technology and network infrastructure. "This is a multi-year deal, and there are a lot of innovative and exciting things to come as part of the relationship," a carrier spokesperson said in an email to FierceMobileContent. "Other than what is in the [press] release, I don't have any other specifics to share right now."
SportsBusinessDaily reports Verizon has committed to paying $1 billion over the course of the new four-year contract, beginning with a $210 million payment in the first year, and also will work to improve wireless network connectivity at the NFL's 31 stadium sites. The operator currently pays around $50 million annually to offer NFL content, including rights fees, team spending commitments and media spending on league media partners. By comparison, ESPN pays an average of $1.8 billion per year, Fox pays $1.1 billion per year, CBS pays $1.08 billion per year and NBC pays $950 million per year.
Sources told SportsBusinessDaily that the NFL offered to sell its mobile broadcast rights to its television partners, but none agreed to match Verizon's offer, with network executives expressing some surprise at how much the carrier agreed to pay.
SportsBusinessDaily adds that the networks have retained rights to stream their games to tablets and computers, limiting NFL Mobile streaming to smartphones. The NFL and its partners likely will have to resolve the differences between phones, tablets and so-called "phablet" devices with larger screen sizes that combine phone and tablet functionality.
Verizon launches Smartphone App Pack in time for Super Bowl XLVI
Verizon's NFL Mobile to stream Super Bowl XLVI live
Verizon's NFL Mobile adds Monday Night Football live streaming
Verizon's NFL Mobile draft coverage adds team alerts, social interaction
Verizon Wireless premieres revamped NFL Mobile
Verizon Wireless strips NFL sponsorship from Sprint