SBD/Morning Buzz

Verizon, NFL Close To Unveiling Groundbreaking $1B Extension

Verizon is close to taking the lid off a four-year, $1B extension of its NFL rights. The deal, which will allow Verizon to stream every NFL regular-season and playoff game to mobile phones, should forever obliterate the distinction between sponsor and media-rights deals. Its previous deal gave Verizon subscribers access to live games schedules from ESPN, NBC and NFL Network. But this new deal adds in the CBS and Fox Sunday afternoon schedules plus the playoffs. It comes just two weeks after the league signed a five-year, $400M deal with Microsoft.

Pointedly, the massive Verizon deal does not include the rights to stream NFL games to tablets – only “mobile phones,” which is certain to lead to fights over what is considered a phone. The league likely will have to resolve the difference between dedicated tablets, like iPads, and hybrid devices, like Samsung’s popular Galaxy.

NFL Exec VP/Media Steve Bornstein and NFL Media COO Brian Rolapp handled negotiations for the league. Verizon’s NFL agency Wasserman Media Group handled negotiations for the carrier. The deal was completed long enough ago that senior club officials were briefed on it at NFL meetings at the end of May.

The deal will make Verizon one of the NFL’s biggest business partners outside of its media-rights holders. Verizon has committed to paying $1B over the four-year term, starting with a $210M payment in the deal’s first year, sources said. The deal marks a significant increase over Verizon’s previous deal. An NFL sponsor since '10, Verizon was paying around $50M annually for its NFL rights, including rights fees, team spend commitments and media spending on NFL media partners.

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