NFL is reportedly nearing a new streaming deal with Verizon that will give the provider the chance to offer games on large screens but could also cost it mobile streaming exclusivity.
According to Bloomberg, the new deal is an expansion of Verizon’s previous agreement that limited its NFL streams to screens seven inches or smaller. It’s unclear if it was the NFL or Verizon that opted to end the mobile exclusivity.
For the NFL, it could open up mobile viewing of games well beyond Verizon’s substantial subscriber base and give virtual MVPDs like AT&T’s DirecTV Now and Dish Network’s Sling TV to offer NFL games on mobile devices.
As traditional TV viewership has somewhat declined, NFL ratings have also been down this season. Loosening restrictions on mobile viewing of games could be an important step for the NFL in attracting or retaining audiences.
For Verizon, it provides a chance to stream games in the living room to smart TVs and streaming boxes, where Amazon has recently been delivering "Thursday Night Football" streams to its Prime Video subscribers.
An NFL deal that includes larger screens could also give Verizon a more competitive video offering as the company continues to struggle in getting its own streaming TV service off the ground.
Earlier this year, Verizon said it planned to unveil a streaming TV service—to compete with YouTube TV, Hulu and others—before the end of the summer. But setbacks including the departure of Verizon media chief Marni Walden reportedly derailed those plans, at least temporarily.
According to Bloomberg, the company has tentatively circled spring 2018 as a launch time frame for its service. Verizon had previously expressed hopes to launch its service this year, but those hopes were dashed by technology hurdles and difficult negotiations with broadcasters and programmers.