OTT & Digital

NBC Universal expands NFL streaming rights to include mobile

US media giant to cover Sunday Night Football across all connected devices from 2018.

by Sam Carp

NBC Universal expands NFL streaming rights to include mobile

NBC Universal has expanded its streaming agreement with the National Football League (NFL) to include mobile rights to the league’s Sunday Night Football games.

The US media giant has held rights to the matches on desktops, tablets and connected TVs since 2008, but starting from 2018 NBC Sports’ coverage will be available across all platforms - including mobile devices for the first time - via NBC’s TV Everywhere offering.

The expanded agreement will allow NBC Universal to extend its authenticated streaming rights to its cable, satellite, and telco partners, as well as virtual multichannel video programming distributors.

Additionally, NBC Sports’ stream will feature national and local affiliate advertising for the first time. NBC Universal will retain the exclusive rights to sell national adverts for Sunday Night Football, but the reach of those commercials will be extended to pass through US telecoms company Verizon’s network and the NFL’s mobile platforms.

NBC Universal’s previous rights deal with the NFL excluded mobile phones because the mobile streaming rights were exclusive to Verizon. That situation changed last week, when Verizon sacrificed the exclusive rights to secure a new and expanded multi-year streaming deal with the NFL.

The agreement with Verizon, which ESPN’s Darren Rovell reports to be worth up to US$2.5 billion over five years, allows the telco to stream live in-market and national games, including pre-season fixtures, regular-season matches and play-off games, along with the season-ending Super Bowl, across all of its digital and mobile media properties to customers in the US regardless of mobile carrier.

The length and financial terms of the NFL’s new contract with NBC Universal have not been disclosed. NBC also broadcasts and streams Thursday Night Football. 

Rick Cordella, executive vice president and general manager of digital media for NBC Sports Group, said: “We have been streaming Sunday Night Football on numerous platforms since 2008, but as a result of this agreement, 2018 will be the first time we can stream primetime television’s number one show on all digital platforms, creating a more seamless viewing experience for NFL fans.”

The NFL’s expanded deals with NBC Universal and Verizon are the latest in the league’s efforts to expand its reach through digital properties. Earlier this year, Amazon paid a reported US$50 million to replace Twitter as the digital rights holder to 11 of the NFL’s Thursday Night Football games, representing a five-fold increase on the amount the social media giant paid for the same package in 2016.