The NFL is poised to take a big step into the streaming future with the news, per Sports Business Journal, of an impending four-year, $1 billion deal for Verizon to stream every NFL regular-season and playoff game.
There are caveats to the deal, most notably the fact that this will be phone-only, no tablets. But the arrangement, an extension of a previous streaming deal, covers every single game on every network. Verizon's previous deal only covered ESPN, NBC and NFL Network games; this one includes CBS and Fox games, as well as the postseason. Under the previous deal, Verizon subscribers paid $5 a month to stream designated games.
It's worth noting that the deal is still small in comparison to some of the major network rights arrangements now in force. ESPN pays about $1.8 billion a year, and Fox and CBS pay approximately $1 billion per year. Verizon is now one of the NFL's top business partners other than the networks, and its rights fees have now quintupled from the current $50 million annual payment.
As a result, the service will only be available to Verizon subscribers. And by keeping certain tablets out of the mix, the NFL and Verizon are clearly aiming for a very specific, out-of-the-home segment of viewers.
Still, this is good news for an increasingly mobile-oriented world. The day is coming when every moment of every game will be at your fingertips.
-Follow Jay Busbee on Twitter at @jaybusbee.-