For football fans in the time of COVID, Verizon Media’s Yahoo Sports app is introducing a new way to live-stream free NFL games virtually with friends — via the Zoom-like “Watch Together” feature.
The Yahoo Sports app’s new Watch Together co-viewing experience will let users invite up to three people to watch live local and primetime NFL games on their mobile phones through a synchronized livestream. Viewers in the group can see and hear each others’ live video stream in a window below the live game feed. It’s the next best thing, perhaps, to huddling up in a sports bar or on a couch as social-distancing guidelines remain in effect.
The NFL is the first launch partner for Watch Together, and Verizon Media intends to roll out the co-watching feature to other apps in the future.
“Watch Together is a result of Verizon Media and NFL’s innovative spirit to deliver next-gen experiences that create connection and community,” said Guru Gowrappan, CEO of Verizon Media, in a statement.
Yahoo Sports’ Watch Together feature will debut during 2020 NFL Kickoff on Thursday, Sept. 10, as the defending Super Bowl champs Kansas City Chiefs host the Houston Texans at 8:20 p.m. ET. Verizon Media will distribute NBC’s telecast of the game.
Also new for the 2020 NFL season, Yahoo Sports is adding an augmented-reality experience, “Yahoo Sports PlayAR,” to its game center. That will show graphical replays of key plays across all games in near real-time, using the NFL’s Next Gen Stats proprietary tracking data combined with enhanced in-game stats for players involved in each play. “Yahoo Sports PlayAR” will debut in NFL games next Sunday (Sept. 13).
The Yahoo Sports app is available to download free for iOS through Apple’s App Store and for Android via Google Play.
In 2017, the NFL and Verizon inked a $2 billion, five-year pact for mobile live-streaming rights to a bundle of games. The deal gives Verizon rights to all in-market and national games — over the regular season and playoffs including the Super Bowl — available to anyone in the U.S., on any mobile carrier or network provider on smartphones and tablets. The package includes live-streaming rights to the NFL’s Thursday, Sunday and Monday Night Football games, and Sunday day games that air on TV in viewers’ local market.
Verizon Media distributes the live NFL games across multiple properties, including the Yahoo Sports app, Yahoo Fantasy Sports app and AOL app. And, for the first time, this season Yahoo Mail users also will be able to access the NFL live games via a new “Videos” tab on the Yahoo Mail iOS and Android app.
In addition to Verizon Media’s apps, the live local and primetime games also will be available for free on NFL mobile properties, including the NFL App, the NFL Fantasy App, and individual teams’ mobile sites and apps for their respective games.
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