Verizon Extends NFL Pact to Build Out 5G in $1 Billion Deal

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Verizon Communications Inc. has signed on for a 10-year deal to be the National Football League’s exclusive 5G network partner as the 2021 season starts. 

The newest deal is a marketing agreement worth about $1 billion that gives Verizon the ability to put its 5G brand on NFL media and demonstrate its 5G interactive technology at NFL games, according to a person familiar with the situation. Sports Business Journal had reported earlier Thursday that the deal value was more than $1 billion. 

Verizon, which has already been working with the NFL for the past decade, hopes to show how super-fast 5G connections in stadiums can enhance the fan experience, capture on-field data for teams to analyze and monitor crowd information for vendors and stadium operators.

“Verizon’s made a tremendous investment in our facilities and in our stadiums to make sure our fans are getting the best experience,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in an interview. “Speed and quality, just like in the game of football, makes a difference. That’s how we win.”

All three major U.S. wireless carriers are in a race to expand 5G networks and sell customers on an upgraded mobile service, but so far there have been few compelling applications to fuel demand. That’s helped make sport venues a key arena to spur early 5G adoption. AT&T Inc. has a exclusive 5G deal with the Dallas Cowboys, while T-Mobile US Inc. wired the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, with 5G for the 2021 Super Bowl.

Verizon has installed its millimeter-wave “ultra wideband” 5G networks in 25 of the 30 NFL stadiums as a way to showcase the technology’s entertainment potential and usefulness of massive data capacity at nearly real-time speeds. 

In another move away from media licensing and ownership, Verizon will no longer be the exclusive NFL mobile partner that offered subscribers live local games on their phones. Instead, through the new NFL partnership, it will offer customers at some stadiums features on their phone like 5G Multi-View with seven different camera angles, as well as access to NFL Next Gen Stats, a play-calling analysis guide.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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