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ESPN and NBC announce they’ll stream NFL games on smartphones

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A direct result of Verizon losing exclusivity on mobile streaming

Atlanta Falcons v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

The NFL’s cable and broadcast network partners aren’t wasting time taking advantage of Verizon’s big fumble of mobile streaming rights. Both ESPN and NBC have separately announced plans to stream their respective weekly shows, Monday Night Football and Sunday Night Football, to smartphones beginning with the 2018 NFL season. You’ll need to be a pay TV customer if you want to watch games, as authentication is required.

Both companies already offered streams on connected TVs, PCs, and tablets, but viewers have for years been unable to watch from a phone. That’s because Verizon’s previous deal with the NFL locked up mobile streaming for its own wireless customers. Last week, Verizon and the league suddenly announced a new $2 billion agreement that wiped out the exclusivity clause. In exchange, Verizon picked up live-streaming rights to the entire NFL regular season (out-of-market Sunday games excluded) and postseason schedule across multiple platforms.

ESPN says its newly-expanded digital rights are good until the end of the 2021 season. NBC’s agreement “allows for NBCU to extend those authenticated streaming rights to its cable, satellite, and telco partners, as well as virtual MVPDs” like DirecTV Now, PlayStation Vue, Sling TV, YouTube TV, and Hulu.