Verizon Wireless has resigned its agreement with the National Football League (NFL), giving its customers mobile access to live, streaming games and behind-the-scenes highlights for at least a few more years.
Through the partnership,Verizon offers its FiOS customers access to the NFL RedZone linear channel on FiOS for $50 annually along with access to an updated version of its popular NFL mobile app that includes coverage of the league and live games streamed for $5 per month. The four-year partnership between the two was set to expire next year, but the "multi-year" extension will see it continue.
News of the contract extension comes as Sports Business Journal reporter Daniel Kaplan says the NFL is planning to make its mobile RedZonechannel free to all season ticket holders, a move that would've surely hurt Verizon's exclusive access. The Wall Street Journalsuggests the NFL still might do so, but the app will lack some of the features Verizon customers can access during the next four years.
In its release announcing its partnership with Verizon, the NFL said the carrier will continue to offer exclusive mobile access to Thursday, Sunday and Monday night football game coverage, NFL Network and NFL RedZone. Verizon is planning to update this NFL Mobile app this year, and, beginning with the 2014 season, will expand to include access to all live CBS and Fox Sunday afternoon games within a subscriber's home market and postseason playoff games, including the Super Bowl.
Why this matters
Attendance at NFL games has been hurting as many fans opt to enjoy games in front of their HDTVs in their living room, so it would be understandable if the league opts to give people more reason to hang on to their season passes.
However, Verizon is keen to hold on to this partnership, which it took over from Sprint in 2010. It was reportedly worth US$720 million when it was first announced, but now the deal price has climbed to $1 billion.
NFL Mobile has been one of Verizon's most successful apps ever, not to mention one of the few branded apps it sells.
The pair did not say whether games could be streamed over Verizon's LTE network. If so, the popular live events will be a real test of its new 4G network.