According to a new report from Bloomberg, Verizon is in the final stages of negotiations with the NFL over a new streaming rights deal. Currently, Verizon owns the streaming rights for in-market games on devices with a screen 7-inches or smaller. The new deal would give Verizon more latitude to deliver games on internet-connected TVs, tablets, and phones.
In the deal, Verizon will reportedly give up its exclusive rights to stream in-market games on phones. So, what does this mean in practical terms? On its face, it seems like a win for all three groups affected by this deal— Verizon, the NFL, and viewers. Verizon will now have the rights to stream NFL games through more avenues, which means customers will no longer be restricted to streaming games on a smartphone.
Everyone from the President to ESPN has been talking about the NFL’s declining ratings this year. As more people cut the cord and lose access to games, the number of eyes on NFL games continue a march downward. The NFL is by no means in trouble as it is still the most popular sport on American airwaves, but a decline is never good business. With this deal, it gains the same thing as Verizon: more eyes on its product. Verizon is one of the biggest communications companies in the country and giving NFL fans access to more games will sure help viewership.
As we’ve been discussing for years with phones, exclusivity isn’t great for customers. It locks people out of choices they would otherwise normally have. Verizon’s in-market streaming exclusivity is no different. As it stands right now, you can’t cast an NFL broadcast from a service like PlayStation Vue, Hulu, DirecTV Now, or YouTube TV to a television from your phone. While this doesn’t seem like a large segment of people, the number of cord cutters is growing by the day. Locking these customers out of streaming their favorite NFL team doesn’t do anyone any good.
Financial details and the duration of the agreement have yet to be released. An official announcement will take place after all of the related parties are informed, according to the report.