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Verizon Wireless Drops $5 Monthly Fee to Watch NFL Live Games for All Customers

Verizon Wireless is making live-streaming NFL games available for no extra charge to all smartphone users starting this season — a feature that previously cost $5 for customers on most plans.

But the nation’s biggest wireless carrier is not strictly doing it as a favor to sports fans: Verizon Wireless is looking for new ways to encourage customers to use more data, ideally to spur them to upgrade to pricier plans with higher usage limits. The company noted that data charges will apply to the NFL Mobile streaming usage.

Verizon Wireless also wants to get more customers hooked on streaming video, as it readies the launch of Go90, a mobile-video offering that will include full TV episodes from partners including Viacom, Vice and Scripps Networks Interactive as well as select live college sports and on-demand content from ESPN, CBS and others.

For the 2014-15 season, Verizon Wireless offered NFL games for no additional charge to customers on its More Everything shared-data plans. Now, all smartphone customers can watch every game, in addition to NFL Network, via the redesigned NFL Mobile from Verizon app at no extra charge.

Verizon Wireless owns exclusive U.S. mobile-streaming rights to NFL games on smartphones through 2017, in a four-year deal with the league reportedly valued at $1 billion that includes a sponsorship component.

The NFL Mobile from Verizon app for Android, iOS and Windows smartphones. It’s free for anyone to download, regardless of their carrier, and provides access to league and team news, in-game highlights, scores and analysis. But only Verizon customers can watch the live games on their phones.

Verizon Wireless will continue to sell the premium NFL RedZone service, which provides live “whip-around” look-ins at games where teams have scoring opportunities, during the regular season for an additional $1.99 a month.

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