Verizon and the NBA have expanded their digital partnership with a new deal that allows Verizon to sell subscriptions for NBA League Pass and let users stream out-of-market games through its Yahoo Sports app. League Pass subscriptions had previously been offered through Go90, but Yahoo Sports — under Verizon’s Oath brand — is an app that’s likely used by far more consumers and football fans. League Pass will cost $99 per season. In hopes of convincing them to buy in, Verizon will let viewers stream eight NBA games for free. (In-market and nationally broadcasted games that air on ESPN or Turner stations aren’t part of League Pass.)
As reported by The Wall Street Journal, this new arrangement gives Verizon mobile exclusivity on selling League Pass, effectively blocking AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint from doing the same — not that they had signaled interest in doing so. AT&T’s DirecTV satellite business is of course free to continue offering the out-of-market subscription package. Non-Verizon customers who have League Pass will be able to use it through Yahoo Sports.
Beyond the subscription service, Verizon and the NBA will create original content that will be made available across Oath properties. “We’ll work together with the NBA to create those behind-the-scenes stories, in depth on certain players, seeing what’s going on in the developmental leagues. Those are the things that a real fan wants to be immersed in,” Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam said in a joint interview with NBA chairman Adam Silver.
They’re also working together on plans for 5G-powered augmented reality and fantasy football experiences. “The technology is now coming of age to support a vision that the commissioner’s had and that we see from a Yahoo Sports perspective. You’ll be able to take from your phone and cast it up onto your IP-based TV set. You’ll be able to integrate all those different experience and have people around the country with you and do things real time because of the latency of the network and the capacity of the network.” Any future that leans heavily on 5G is probably farther off than Verizon’s CEO would like to believe, but since this new deal is a multi-year pact, at least they’re planning ahead.