There are indications that the NFL intends on terminating Verizon Communications’ (VZ) exclusive rights to broadcast games on mobile devices, at the completion of this season. Under the terms of the expiring 4-year $1 billion agreement, only Verizon cellular subscribers can stream live game broadcasts; regardless of cable provider. It is still possible that Verizon could retain the title of “official wireless service provider” of the NFL and continue to stream games, while the NFL grants some of its other partners’ permission to broadcast games on mobile devices.
Howie Long Short: The NFL must end mobile exclusivity because their broadcast partners (ESPN, CBS, FOX and NBC) pay a fortune for the rights to carry games and want to make those games available on as many platforms as possible. Some have expressed concern that additional mobile distribution will further contribute to the decline of the league’s television ratings, but no one prefers to watch a game on a small computing device. An increase in mobile distribution will correspond with an increase in “Digital in TV Ratings” (method to account for all viewers across devices with program content and commercials that match the linear TV airing); which is good news for the league, its broadcast partners and their advertisers.
Fan Marino: While NFL television ratings are down 5% from 2016, the decline has yet to influence ad sales. In fact, ad sales were up 2% for the month of September; increasing from $504 million to $513 million. It should be noted that the NFL’s total ad inventory increased by 2% for the ’17 season, as did the cost of an ad (7% to $515K).
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