Verizon and the NFL announced their new deal for 1.5 billion dollars over five years yesterday. The new deal no longer gives Verizon exclusive mobile rights. However, it will allow them to use their Oath Inc. outlets, especially Yahoo Sports, to reach more consumers. Yahoo Sports will now stream local games, along with Thursday, Sunday, and Monday night games.
And if you’re like me, the only thing that has kept you from cutting the cord is sports. My family can get most of our media from online services, which is very cost effective, but a few sporting events have eluded us from cutting the cord entirely- in particular the NFL and my weird obsession with Formula One racing. The NHL, NBA, and MLB all offer packages for every game during the season as well as playoff packages. So why can’t the NFL? Well, the current contracts with the major cable networks won’t allow it yet. I had high hopes this Verizon deal would bridge that gap, but as usual, the consumer is the loser.
I found it interesting that every article and press release focused only on mobile. Have you ever tried to watch a game on your phone? It is usually my last resort, not my first choice. If you have bought a Smart TV recently, then chances are it came with the Yahoo Sports app. If you haven’t, the Yahoo Sports app is on other streaming devices, like Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Googles Chromecast. Maybe this is what Verizon should have targeted in their contract negotiations? Getting game coverage on the TV app would have been a huge win for consumers and would have driven cord-cutters to Verizon with the ability to stream games over the big screen. Verizon also dropped the ball by not getting rights to NFL Redzone. Yahoo Sports main feature is the Fantasy Sports platform, and every fantasy football fan loves Redzone. Redzone keeps fantasy football fans up to date on every score around the league all day long on Sundays. If Verizon could have executed and got both of these rights, it would have been a game changer for them. Instead, it is only more of the same.
From an investment standpoint, it is better to take a wait-and-see approach. Much like the wait-and-see approach consumers have had to take when trying to cord-cut from big cable companies without losing their Football Sundays.