Verizon reportedly pays $1.5 billion to stream NFL games on smartphones using any carrier

NFL games are about to become available on way more mobile devices.

The National Football League and Verizon announced a multiyear partnership Monday that will let fans on any mobile carrier stream NFL games on their smartphones. Until the announcement, only Verizon customers could watch live games on their phones through the NFL app. Customers with other carriers, as of January, can use Verizon’s Oath media properties including Yahoo Sports, Yahoo and AOL to watch games live.

“Our expanded partnership with Verizon is great for our fans,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “Starting with the upcoming playoffs and for seasons to come, live NFL action directly on your mobile device — regardless of carrier — will give millions of fans additional ways to follow their favorite sport.” (Verizon is reportedly paying $1.5 billion for the deal, according to Recode.)

Verizon has partnered with the league since 2010, and will now work with individual teams on “Smart Stadium” technology for their stadiums. Verizon’s sponsorship rights are expanding in the deal, with Yahoo to become an official NFL sponsor.

“We’re making a commitment to fans for Verizon’s family of media properties to become the mobile destination for live sports,” Verizon Chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam said in a statement. “Partnerships like this are a win for fans, but also for partners and advertisers looking for a mobile-first experience.”

While the full extent of new deal changes won’t go into effect until next season, certain elements will roll out for the postseason. Fans, regardless of their wireless carrier, will have access to NFL postseason games on Yahoo, Yahoo Sports, go90 and the NFL app.

Video on-demand rights are also expanding through Verizon, with more NFL highlights, clips and Verizon-produced original content.

The announcement comes a week after Goodell signed a contract extension that could be worth $200 million. Goodell has faced blowback in recent years over his handling of divisive issues including domestic violence issues and player protests during the national anthem.

The NFL’s declining ratings have had Wall Street and advertisers on edge. Viewership fell 18 percent year over year in Week 10, with lower ratings in all six game-time windows. The slip in November put the NFL’s season-to-date audience decline at roughly 7 percent, according to JPMorgan analyst Alexia Quadrani.

Correction: An earlier version misspelled analyst Alexia Quadrani’s last name.

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