Verizon will pay approximately $2.5 billion in a five-year deal with the NFL, sources told ESPN. That would be roughly twice the annual price of Verizon's previous deal with the league.
And because of that deal, anyone will be able to watch football games for free on Yahoo’s app, now that Verizon owns Yahoo.
However, people who want to watch football through online-TV services like Sling or YouTube TV will have more problems. An NFL game on ESPN will still be blocked on the app on a phone — and starting next season, on tablets as well, for some games, said Brian Angiolet, Verizon’s global chief media and content officer.
Verizon’s five-year deal with the NFL takes effect in January, in time for playoffs. Games will stream on the Yahoo Sports app; Yahoo.com on mobile (but not Yahoo.com on computers); Verizon’s little-known video app, go90; and the NFL mobile app.
Verizon bought Yahoo in June and AOL in 2015 and wants to combine the two to build a digital ad business to rival Facebook and Google. It hopes adding more sports streaming will help grow the audience for its media business.
“Sports is the first major pillar in Verizon’s strategy. The NFL is a marquee piece of content,” Angiolet said. Verizon will be able to sell some digital ads during games.
The NFL has had a partnership with Verizon since 2010 and has been experimenting with other ways to televise its games besides broadcast and cable TV. Amazon this year has 10 Thursday night games and a Christmas game.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.