Oath CEO Tim Armstrong Defends NFL Deal, Outlines 2018 Goals

Tim Armstrong Variety Entertainment Summit CES
Chelsea Lauren/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

Oath CEO Tim Armstrong defended the massive deal struck last month by his parent company, Verizon, with the NFL at the Variety Entertainment Summit on Wednesday at CES in Las Vegas.

The telco is gaining rights to live-stream gridiron action to any mobile device nationwide under a new five-year pact with the league for a reported $2 billion deal.

“I would argue a five-year deal for NFL is money really well spent to drive Verizon and its core strategy,” Armstrong told Variety’s Todd Spangler in an on-stage Q&A.

Armstrong cited the experiences both Verizon and Yahoo have had broadcasting select NFL games from London in recent years as providing the data that gives his company confidence that there’s a growing appetite for a global audience.

The new Verizon-NFL deal covers all in-market and national games, including preseason, regular season, and playoff games — including the Super Bowl — available to anyone in the U.S., on any mobile carrier or network provider. The package includes live-streaming rights to the NFL’s Thursday, Sunday and Monday Night Football games, and the Sunday day games that air on TV in viewers’ local market.

Armstrong put the NFL deal in the context of a larger strategy Verizon is embarking on in 2018 to build up its content assets not just in sports, but in other areas where Oath is already strong thanks to its Yahoo and AOL holdings: news, finance and entertainment.  He expects to announce more partnerships in the coming year to improve those verticals.

Other 2018 priorities for Armstrong include running all of Oath’s assets on a single proprietary advertising system and focusing more on a membership strategy given the huge presence the company has in both mobile and email. “Our company has two of the best assets in the world for where consumers are going and we’re going to leverage that,” said Armstrong.