Verizon spends billions on NFL rights to give Oath a boost

US telco Verizon has announced a new deal with the NFL – i.e. American Football league – to distribute games across its digital media network.

This appears to be an attempt to answer the oft-asked question: “What’s the point of dropping billions of dollars on a couple of internet dinosaurs?” Verizon, in its infinite wisdom, has focused its diversification efforts on the acquisition of AOL and Yahoo, which were kind of a big deal 20 years ago. It decided to call the digital media formed from them Oath earlier this year and has now decided to give it an injection of premium content.

“We’re making a commitment to fans for Verizon’s family of media properties to become the mobile destination for live sports,” said Lowell McAdam, Chairman and CEO of Verizon. “The NFL is a great partner for us and we are excited to take its premier content across a massive mobile scale so viewers can enjoy live football and other original NFL content where and how they want it. We believe that partnerships like this are a win for fans, but also for partners and advertisers looking for a mobile-first experience.”

“Verizon has been a key NFL partner, both in the distribution of games on NFL mobile and as a sponsor, since 2010 and we’re thrilled to be both extending and expanding our relationship with them,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “Our expanded partnership with Verizon is great for our fans.  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 favourite sport.”

As the quotes above touch upon, this deal marks the end of Verizon’s exclusivity, but it will now be able to offer the games to anyone via Yahoo sports and that sort of thing. They haven’t announced the numbers but reports have it between $1.5-2 billion for a five-year deal. At a time when the ROI of telco spending on premium content in coming under question this deal marks a distinct doubling down by Verizon.

Facebook signs multi-year NFL content deal

The content gold rush continues as Facebook announces a worldwide programming partnership with the US National Football League.

The gig will allow Facebook to serve up the official American footie highlights as served up by the NFL, both from the regular season and the playoffs, including the super bowl itself. On top of that a bunch of other content produced by NFL Media will be shown on Facebook Watch, its newly-created original content platform.

“We have millions of fans on Facebook, and they continue to demonstrate an incredible appetite for NFL content,” said Hans Schroeder, COO of NFL Media. “We’re excited to bring a compelling set of highlights and shows from the NFL and our clubs to our fans on Facebook.”

“We’re excited for Watch to become a destination for NFL fans to catch up on the latest on-field action and connect with one another,” said Dan Reed, Facebook’s Head of Global Sports Partnerships. “These full game recaps and shows will deliver comprehensive coverage while enabling the active NFL fan communities on Facebook to watch and debate the top storylines from each week.”

So everyone’s excited, isn’t that nice? Whether or not NFL fans will share that excitement is another matter. While NFL.com is an awful place to view video highlights, as the voracious league insists on serving ads every two seconds, this is easily avoided by simply Googling ‘NFL’ and watching the resulting ad-free clips without even having to go to YouTube.

What this will cost Facebook hasn’t been revealed but the social media giant recently bid over $600 million to show Indian Premier League cricket, but failed. Amazon, meanwhile, recently outbid Sky for the ATP tennis tour coverage. The fight for eyeballs seems more intense than ever and it will be interesting to see how the internet giants go about monetising their content investments.