One of the NFL's biggest sponsors is coming back.
Verizon will pay approximately $2.5 billion in a five-year deal with the NFL, sources told ESPN. That would be roughly twice the annual price of Verizon's previous deal with the league.
The new deal for the largest U.S. wireless carrier looks very different from its last deal. That's because Verizon has gone from being solely a mobile carrier to also being a video content company after its purchases of AOL in 2015 and Yahoo! in 2017 for $4.4 billion each.
The deal allows Verizon to stream live in-market NFL games on any one of its websites, with Yahoo! being the predominant home.
Unlike the last deal, which allowed Verizon to have the exclusive streaming rights for in-market live games only on mobile phones, the live in-market games will be available on the Verizon platforms on phones of all carriers starting this postseason. In 2018, it will include all tablets.
To monetize the deal, Verizon will have ad inventory within the games that it streams on mobile, which includes in-market games on Thursday, Sunday afternoon, Sunday night and Monday night. DirecTV has rights for all out-of-market games on Sunday.
"Media is one of the major pillars for us now," said Brian Angiolet, the company's global chief media and content officer. "And sports is going to be the most important part of that content."
For the NFL, the deal gives the league greater distribution as people shift their viewing habits, said Hans Schroeder, chief operating officer of NFL media and business.
"This model allows our product to be much more broadly available and give greater access to our fans," Schroeder said. "People are still going to gravitate towards watching games on the best screen possible, which is television, but for people who are on-the-go and younger fans, this deal makes sense."
While NFL ratings on television have declined for a second straight season, Angiolet said he had no concern doing this media deal because mobile is experiencing an uptick.
"The NFL generates the greatest audience in mobile in our experience," Angiolet said. "Not only has year-over-year mobile viewership been growing, but NFL mobile consumption has been growing, too."
Angiolet also said he wasn't concerned about the negative attention turned at the league, including the protests around the national anthem.
"We've been a partner of the league since 2010, and this is a five-year deal," Angiolet said. "The climate might shift temporarily, but in the long haul, the NFL is a great partner and we had no concern renewing our deal."
In addition to live streaming, Verizon will have broader highlight rights and plans to experiment with augmented reality and virtual reality. It also hopes to use the NFL deal to produce original content across Verizon's network of sites organized under a new content company called Oath.
Other rights holders, including ESPN, will continue to have their broadcasts available to stream on computer through a login with the fan's cable carrier.