Verizon and the NFL have had a longstanding partnership, with the wireless carrier offering its customers the ability to stream live games and other NFL content. Now, that deal is about to get even bigger — according to Sports Business Daily, the NFL and Verizon are close to wrapping up a four-year, $1 billion contract that will allow the carrier to stream every single NFL game. Currently, Verizon's NFL Mobile Premium lets users stream games on Thursday, Sunday, and Monday nights for $5 a month. This new deal will include Sunday afternoon games on CBS and Fox as well as the league's complete playoff schedule.
These new rights won't be cheap, however — Verizon was reportedly paying about $50 million per year, while this new deal will see the carrier paying five times that on average over the life of the contract. However, it's still significantly less than what TV networks pay for the right to broadcast NFL games. Last year, the NFL's TV partners signed nine-year deals, some of which pay nearly the same amount per year that Verizon will pay for the life of its contract. ESPN pays an average of $1.8 billion per year, while Fox and CBS both pay just over $1 billion per year.
By comparison, Verizon's deal reaches a more limited population — and most consumers probably prefer to watch games on their large TVs rather than their smartphones. As such, there are some restrictions in the deal on what specific devices can stream live games: while Verizon can stream every game on the NFL's schedule, it won't be able to stream them to every device on Verizon's network. The service reportedly will be restricted to "mobile phones" — a restriction that's largely already in place. The NFL Mobile app for iOS is a universal one, but users can only stream live games to an iPad if they also subscribe to Verizon FiOS or Cablevision cable service. The service isn't even available on Wi-Fi only iPads, and it also doesn't support video out over HDMI or Airplay — and of course, this is only available to Verizon subscribers. It's obvious Verizon and the NFL want to keep this service truly mobile and don't want customers using it to replace watching games at home through more traditional channels.
Update: The NFL has confirmed that it has extended its deal with Verizon.