Report: Verizon pays $21 million to stream Ravens-Jaguars London game

By Jesse Reed
Oct 25, 2015; London, United Kingdom; Jacksonville Jaguars mascot Jaxson De Ville is lowered from the Wembley arch before the game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Buffalo Bills at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports

In news that knocked our socks off, communications giant Verizon has reportedly paid an arm and a leg to stream one NFL game in 2017.

“The game, a week three matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars to be played in London on Sept. 24, will be distributed on Verizon’s AOL platform, its mobile video service go90, and Complex, a young male-focused site it co-owns with Hearst Corp,” wrote Joe Flint of the Wall Street Journal. “Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but a person familiar with the transaction said the price for the game was $21 million. Verizon will have exclusive global rights except in the Baltimore and Jacksonville markets, where the game will be available on local television. In the U.K., the game will be on Sky Sports.”

As Flint noted, this deal is similar to the one struck by Yahoo back in 2015 to stream a game in London featuring the Jaguars and Buffalo Bills — a game that had an average audience of 2.36 million viewers.

Amazon recently paid a reported $50 million to stream Thursday Night Football games in 2017. So clearly, companies offering streaming services are hot to trot on these packages. But it’s worth noting Amazon will be streaming 10 games, at an average cost of just $5 million per game.

According to Vishal Shah, the NFL’s senior vice president of digital media business development, this deal with Verizon is a sort of test to probe the market.

“Are we reaching incremental audiences? Are we reaching the millennial demo? What we want to continue to learn is who is consuming the live games,” Mr. Shah said.

One reason Verizon may have been willing to pay so much is that it is reportedly close to acquiring Yahoo itself, which would greatly increase the platform upon which it could stream the London game in 2017, per Flint.

It’s going to be fascinating to see what comes of this expensive little experiment. And as a side note, hopefully the Jaguars will be a team worth watching in 2017.