New deal means you’ll soon be able to watch NFL football for free on your phone

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This September 12, 2013 photo illustration shows the newly designed Yahoo logo seen on a smartphone. Yahoo has refreshed its logo for the first time since the Internet companys founding 18 years ago. The new look unveiled September 4 is part of a makeover that Yahoo Inc. has been undergoing since the Sunnyvale, California company hired Google executive Marissa Mayer to become Yahoos CEO. AFP PHOTO / Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — Watching NFL football games on your phone used to be mainly limited to Verizon customers. Soon anyone will be able to watch football games on the go for free on Yahoo’s app, now that Verizon owns Yahoo.

But people who want to watch football through online-TV services like Sling or YouTube TV will have more problems. An NFL game on ESPN will still be blocked on the app on a phone — and starting next season, on tablets as well, for some games, said Brian Angiolet, Verizon’s global chief media and content officer.

Verizon’s five-year deal with the NFL takes effect in January, in time for playoffs. Games will stream on the Yahoo Sports app; Yahoo.com on mobile (but not Yahoo.com on computers); Verizon’s little-known video app, go90; and the NFL mobile app.

Verizon bought Yahoo in June and AOL in 2015 and wants to combine the two to build a digital ad business to rival Facebook and Google. It hopes adding more sports streaming will help grow the audience for its media business.

“Sports is the first major pillar in Verizon’s strategy. The NFL is a marquee piece of content,” Angiolet said.

Verizon will be able to sell some digital ads during games.

The NFL has had a partnership with Verizon since 2010 and has been experimenting with other ways to televise its games besides broadcast and cable TV. Amazon this year has 10 Thursday night games and a Christmas game.