With the first set of TV rights set to expire after the 2021 season, the NFL will be negotiating a lot of new deals over the next few years. That process unofficially started this week when the league and Verizon reached a long-term deal that will allow the tech company to livestream games to any mobile device.
The two sides have agreed to a five-year deal that's worth roughly $2.5 billion a year, according to ESPN.com. For $500 million per year, Verizon will be getting a major upgrade over their prior deal, which only allowed them to stream to cell phones or any device that had a screen under seven inches in size.
With the new deal, Verizon will now be able to stream games to nearly any device, including cell phones, computers, tablets. The company will also be able to stream NFL highlights, but not games, on over-the-top devices like Amazon's Firestick or Google's Chromecast.
The deal makes sense for Verizon because they're now much more than just a cell phone company. Over the past three years, they've purchase both AOL and Yahoo, which will give consumers multiple ways to stream NFL games once the deal officially kicks off in January 2018. Once the deal kicks in next month, you'll be able to watch playoff games, and the Super Bowl, through Verizon entities, including Yahoo Sports, no matter which cell phone carrier you're using.
In the previous contract, if you wanted to live stream an in-market NFL game on your phone, you could only do that if Verizon was your cell phone provider. Now, it will be open to anyone with a streaming device. Although Verizon is now allowed to stream in-market games, DirecTV is still the sole provider for out-of-market games.
For instance, if you live in Tampa Bay, you could stream a Sunday Buccaneers game through a Verizon entity or any other game that's being televised on a local affiliate in the Tampa market. However, if you want to watch an out-of-market game, you'll still have to subscribe to DirecTV to watch or stream.
Basically, anyone with a phone will now be able to watch in-market NFL games, along with playoff games and the Super bowl.
According to the NFL's chief operating officer of media and business, Hans Schroeder, the league made the deal because more and more people are using something other than their television to watch NFL games.
"This model allows our product to be much more broadly available and give greater access to our fans," Schroeder said, via ESPN.com. "People are still going to gravitate towards watching games on the best screen possible, which is television, but for people who are on-the-go and younger fans, this deal makes sense."
The agreement also gives Verizon the right to show NFL highlights and news throughout the year and you'll likely see most of those through Oath. That's the name of Verizon's subsidiary that runs the companies new digital sites, including AOL and Yahoo.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said it was important to keep Verizon on as a partner.
"Verizon has been a key NFL partner, both in the distribution of games on NFL mobile and as a sponsor, since 2010 and we're thrilled to be both extending and expanding our relationship with them," Goodell said in a statement. "Our expanded partnership with Verizon is great for our fans. Starting with the upcoming playoffs and for seasons to come, live NFL action directly on your mobile device -- regardless of carrier -- will give millions of fans additional ways to follow their favorite sport."
The next big media contract that Goodell and the NFL will have to negotiate will likely come this offseason. The Thursday night deal -- which is currently shared by CBS and NBC -- expires after the 2017 season. Not to mention, the league could also bid out the Thursday night streaming rights, which . In the TV department, the next deal the NFL will likely have to negotiate will be the Monday night package with ESPN, which is set to expire after the 2021 season.