In advance of the 2021 NFL season, the league has announced a ten-year extension with Verizon worth over $1 billion.
The extension goes big on 5G in stadiums, with 25 of the league’s 30 venues covered.
Together, Verizon and the NFL are transforming how people watch sports at the stadium. In 2019 Verizon deployed 5G Ultra Wideband in parts of 13 stadiums to coincide with the NFL regular season Kickoff. Over the last two years, Verizon has expanded 5G Ultra Wideband connectivity within those venues and surrounding areas, and has partnered with the NFL on in-stadium fan experiences like Verizon 5G Multi-View, which enables fans to view up to seven simultaneous camera angles and AR overlays of the NFL’s Next Gen Stats on select 5G-enabled phones. Verizon 5G Multi-View will continue to be available during the 2021 season in select NFL Club phone apps for fans in-stadium on gameday. Today, 5G Ultra Wideband is live in select parts of 25 NFL stadiums and more than 60 sports and entertainment venues across the country.
Per the Sports Business Journal, the billion dollar deal is focused more on tech than content. In previous years, Verizon had free mobile streaming rights to NFL games, and also paid $20 million for the exclusive rights to the NFL’s Ravens-Jaguars game in London in 2017 (which ended up being a dud). In 2017, the NFL and Verizon agreed to a new deal worth roughly $500 million per year, which removed Verizon’s mobile exclusivity, but also allowed the company to stream the NFL playoffs to mobile users.
With the emphasis now placed on technology, rather than streaming and content, it’s a clear pivot from Verizon. Yet, given the competition in the field from other media companies, the continued growth and ubiquity of streaming, and Verizon’s failure to truly carve out its own path in the streaming game, it seems like a sensible decision, especially when the cost savings ($1 billion total over a decade, compared to $500 million per year) is taken into account.