Tuesday
Mar092010

NFL Makes Call To Verizon Wireless, Disconnects Sprint Nextel Deal

March 9, 2010: The National Football League said it has signed a four-year deal making Verizon Wireless the league's official wireless service sponsor. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Verizon replaces Sprint Nextel as the NFL's wireless provider, which signed a five-year deal in 2005 as the league's first wireless telecom sponsor and literally took the NFL from zero-to-60 in enabling fans to access content via their mobile phones.

The NFL said the partnership with Verizon would "become increasingly rich" as Verizon Wireless launches its 4G network. Verizon said it plans to have 4G available in 25 to 30 markets in 2010 and in "virtually all of its current nationwide 3G footprint by the end of 2013."

The alliance will first be experienced by fans during coverage of the 2010 NFL Draft,  April 22-24, with feeds available over their mobile phones. Verizon Wireless will also launch NFL-themed marketing to coincide with the 2010 season.

Among the programming that will be available during the regular season will be the NFL RedZone channel from the NFL Network, which launched last season and airs live look-ins of every key play and touchdown from Sunday afternoon games; and live streaming of NBC's Sunday Night Football and NFL Network's Thursday Night Football.

In addition, the deal will give fans 24/7 access to the NFL Network. That includes game highlights and an extensive collection of on-demand video featuring analysis and inside access from NFL Network and NFL Films. Other features during the season will be live radio broadcasts of every regular season and playoff game from both home and away teams; access to fantasy information, news, and player and team statistics; and customizable NFL alerts, ringtones and graphics.

During the upcoming draft, Verizon Wireless will offer live 24/7 stream of NFL Network's coverage from Radio City Music Hall in New York, extensive collection of on-demand video of NFL Network analysis. a pick-by-pick Draft tracker updated in real time, and in-depth prospect profiles, blogs and news.

Verizon Wireless also is a sponsor of the U.S. Speedskating Team, has alliances in Nascar, and has naming rights to Verizon Center in Washington, home to the NBA's Wizards, WNBA's Mystics and NHL's Capitals. Verizon, a joint venture between Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group, drew the ire of the U.S. Olympic Committee during the Winter Olympics for running Olympic-themed spots although rival AT&T is the USOC's official telecom partner.

"This is an agreement that has, at its core a mutual desire by both the NFL and Verizon Wireless to provide consumers with what they want on and off the field," John Stratton, evp and CMO for Verizon Wireless, said in a statement.  "For Verizon Wireless, it is NFL content delivered over our 3G network so football fans can extend the excitement of the sport long after the last touchdown of a season.  And the NFL content is customizable in that consumers have options from video to ringtones to alerts; the choice is theirs."

According to Brian Rolapp, the NFL's svp-media strategy, "We are looking forward to working with Verizon Wireless to deliver our fans the most extensive experience on mobile phones. Our fans have an insatiable appetite for football, and we will be able to keep them connected wherever they are on game day but also throughout the year."

Verizon said that additional information on specific phones and associated pricing will be available closer to the start of the NFL season in August.

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