Between player protests, concussion concerns, and a ratings decline, it’s been a tumultuous year for the NFL. But there’s no doubt that the league’s media rights still hold incredible value.
The NFL and Verizon on Monday announced an expanded multi-year deal worth a reported $2 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal, that will enable Verizon to stream games nationwide on a variety of platforms, regardless of mobile carrier.
That’s a big difference from the existing deal between the NFL and Verizon, which had exclusive rights to stream games on smartphones to its wireless customers. It was a way for Verizon to attract and retain more mobile subscribers.
But now, games — preseason, regular season, playoff, and the Super Bowl — will stream on multiple Verizon-owned properties like Yahoo, Yahoo Sports, AOL, and Verizon’s g90 streaming app, along with the NFL mobile app. The new deal goes into effect this January, in time for the playoffs.
Recode reported that Verizon is paying at least 20 percent more to stream the games compared to its previous contract with the NFL, which “gets Verizon to pay more for its games, and distribute them more broadly than before,” noted Recode.
Verizon won’t stream every game — AT&T’s DirecTV still has rights to some out-of-market games, for example — but the deal covers most of the live action, and also includes highlights and other weekly content. The company said it reaches more than 200 million monthly unique users in the U.S. across its mobile and digital properties.
Variety noted that the NFL makes about $7 billion per year on TV broadcast deals, which are still worth considerably more than these newer digital streaming deals the league is inking with companies like Verizon and Amazon. But as more fans cut the cord, it’s clear that digital platforms could be where most people watch games in the future — and the NFL is reacting accordingly in order to extract the most value from its product.