Verizon is expanding its deal with the NFL so even people using other mobile carriers can watch games on the Yahoo Sports mobile app, the league announced Monday.
Verizon has been the exclusive mobile carrier of NFL games since 2010. The new deal, which runs through the 2022-23 season, will make the games available to users of other carriers using Verizon's Yahoo platform. Verizon completed its $4.5-billion acquisition of Yahoo in June.
Starting with the 2018 postseason, Yahoo users will get the nationally broadcast NFL games offered Thursday, Sunday and Monday nights, as well as their local market games.
Verizon will nearly double its rights fee to the NFL to $400 million to $500 million per year, an indication that demand for the league's content is still robust despite declining TV ratings and bad publicity due to controversies over brain injuries and players' protests during the national anthem before games.
Verizon was in the last year of its current NFL deal, which cost the carrier about $250 million per year and made the games available only to its mobile customers.
Although traditional TV ratings for NFL games are in decline for a second straight year, streaming of the games by younger viewers has been on the rise. Younger viewers increasingly depend on digital devices for video content.
"We're making a commitment to fans for Verizon's family of media properties to become the mobile destination for live sports," Lowell McAdam, chairman and chief executive of Verizon Communications, said in a statement. "The NFL is a great partner for us and we are excited to take its premier content across a massive mobile scale so viewers can enjoy live football and other original NFL content where and how they want it."
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 up for renewal in 2022.
Amazon is currently the nonexclusive streaming outlet for "NFL Thursday Night Football." The online giant paid $50 million for the rights, a fivefold increase over what Twitter shelled out the previous year.
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