Verizon Communications is closing in on a new deal for digital streaming rights with the National Football League that will enable the largest wireless carrier in the U.S. to deliver broadcasts of games to internet-connected tablets, phones and televisions, say people who are familiar with these ongoing talks.
This new deal will expand on the previous contract Verizon has, which limited it to streaming on just screens that were up to seven inches in size, or basically only smartphones.
With this new deal in place, Verizon will have the right to give its subscribers access to the games across all devices, including large-screen TVs, the people close to the matter said, who request anonymity.
Verizon will be losing the exclusive rights for airing games on mobile devices, said two people close to the negotiations.
What that means is satellite and cable companies, and providers of streaming video such as Sling TV and DirecTV Now, might be able to offer customers they have streaming games on their smartphones through their app.
An announcement should be forth coming after the parties involved have been informed. Financial details and the length of the contract for Verizon with the NFL were not immediately known.
The rights Verizon will hold include the Thursday night NFL games, amongst others. The FiOS TV subscribers already have NFL access on their televisions at home, because their lineup of channels includes networks such as NBC and ESPN.
The NFL splintered its rights for broadcasting amongst several different parties including those online. Verizon at present has mobile streaming rights to games on Sunday in the home market, as well as games televised on Thursday, Sunday and Monday nights.
DirecTV, owned by AT&T, has the exclusive rights to games that are out of the market during Sunday including for mobile devices.
NFL games have been consistently amongst the most watched on television in the U.S., which gives Verizon another strong source of programming as it builds its advertising and online video strategy.
After searching for possible acquisitions such as Charter Communications, Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam said during a conference with investors in September the company moved on from big mergers and acquisitions deals.
It had been amongst those that looked at the assets 21st Century Fox owned, though its interest is not high.
For the NFL, this deal gives it another large outlet for its games, as its rating slumps. The NFL has been experimenting with Yahoo over streaming for the last two seasons.