Why Verizon Expanded Its NBA Contract


Mar. 7 2018, Updated 7:30 a.m. ET

Previous partnership renewed and expanded

Verizon (VZ) and the NBA in January announced what they described as a multiyear partnership designed to deliver one of the most comprehensive online streaming platforms of NBA content. Since Verizon already had an arrangement to stream NBA games on the Internet, the deal announced in January actually meant that the company renewed and expanded its previous partnership with the league.

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Selling NBA League Pass on Yahoo Sports

Verizon’s expanded partnership with the NBA goes beyond streaming league play to include developing original content to enhance the experience of the fans and Verizon customers. The new agreement also allows Verizon to sell discounted NBA League Pass subscriptions through Yahoo Sports in addition to its Go90 platform.

Verizon’s expanded relationship with the NBA came just about a month after the company also renewed and expanded its deal with the NFL in a multiyear agreement believed to be valued at more than $2.0 billion. Twitter (TWTR), Amazon (AMZN), and Alphabet’s (GOOGL) YouTube are also said to be exploring bids for rights to stream NFL’s Thursday night games to their online audiences.

The first screen for sports fans

Behind Verizon’s sports deals is a mission to become the first screen for sports fans, and this is because the company views sports as the aggregator of audiences. Therefore, it seems Verizon is betting that sports deals such as with the NFL and the NBA will enable it to attract more customers to its network and platforms as well as generate more advertising revenue.

In the saturated US wireless market, operators like Verizon and AT&T (T) have been buying media assets as they look to unlock new revenue sources.

Verizon’s revenue increased 5.0% year-over-year to $34 billion in 4Q17 as shown in the chart above.


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