American football’s NFL has today entered into a decade-long, 5G-focused partnership with Verizon, the US telecoms giant. 

Verizon has become the league’s official 5G partner, as well as an official technology partner, in time for the start of the 2021 NFL season later today (9 September).

The partnership will involve the NFL using 5G services provided by Verizon to “unlock advancements that have the ability to impact management, scouting, training, health and safety and game day operations.”

The partnership builds on the existing relationship between the league and Verizon, under which the telecoms firm has installed 5G Ultra Wideband service in 25 NFL stadiums over recent years.

In the last few years, Verizon has expanded its 5G connectivity within venues and has also partnered with the NFL on in-stadium fan experiences like Verizon 5G Multi-View, which will be made available through select NFL club mobile apps.

Specific examples of stadium 5G upgrades by Verizon include the Raymond James stadium in Tampa and SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles.

Verizon has also said it will now start working with venue owners at NFL stadiums, by using its 5G Edge technology to “gain real-time information on crowd patterns.”

Aside from its 5G-focused deal with the NFL, Verizon also holds mobile live-streaming rights to NFL games played on Thursday, Sunday and Monday nights, and other Sunday games in local markets only, in a five-year, $2 billion deal running to 2022, and has been making these available through Yahoo Sports.

The two bodies first teamed up in 2010, with the last renewal of the mobile rights coming in December 2017.

Hans Vestberg, chairman and chief executive at Verizon, said: “Our longstanding relationship, and swift delivery of 5G connectivity in 25 stadiums, has created new ways to bring fans even closer to the action. As we embark on the next 10 years, our work with the NFL will continue to enhance and transform.”

Roger Goodell, the NFL’s commissioner, added: "For the past decade, Verizon has been one of our key technology partners, helping with everything from digital distribution of NFL content, engaging our fans at the NFL's biggest events, enhancing communications throughout the NFL ecosystem and upgrading technology.”

The 2021 NFL season starts later tonight (US time), as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on the Dallas Cowboys. 

Last month, Verizon struck a multi-faceted deal with the Big3, the US professional 3-on-3 basketball league founded by famous rapper Ice Cube.

The deal, which builds on an existing relationship between the two organisations, will see Verizon receive brand visibility via on-court signage and present the ‘rules of the game’ segment each week.  

Under the tie-up, Verizon has been named as the presenting partner of the playoff and championship games, which will take place at Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas on 28 August and 4 September respectively.