Verizon looks to populate its LTE networks with NFL content

The National Football League wants to reach as many eyeballs with its content as possible, while Verizon Wireless wants to make the most of its huge investment in next-generation, high-speed broadband networks. Sounds like a match made in heaven.

Among its many new initiatives, the league is said to be working with Verizon Wireless to allow subscribers to watch live broadcasts of NFL games, video highlights, as well as other content, on portable devices like the new Samsung Galaxy Tablet, which has been announced as the first tablet PC for Verizon subs. Apple's iPad is sure to be next.

Sprint has been the exclusive distributor of NFL content to cell phones up to now.

"The NFL will be on a tablet," Brian Rolapp, the NFL's senior vice president of media strategy, told the "Wall Street Journal." "It's a question of what shape or form. We are currently talking to Verizon about it."

There's talk of an application that extends to fans inside a stadium to allow them to watch exclusive game-day content, get alternate camera angels from the main broadcast, and other forms of interactivity.

The technology discussions are part of Verizon's plan to leverage its roll out of Long Term Evolution (LTE, often referred to as "4G") networks in cities across the country-including cities that host NFL teams. While 3G networks offer download rates of about 1Mb/s to 3Mb/s, LTE networks can provide a sustained rate of from 5Mb/s to 12Mb/s. This makes the experience similar to watching video on a PC with a broadband connection.

Verizon Wireless plans to introduce its LTE service in 30 markets by the end of the year. MetroPCS has a similar broadband wireless service running now in Dallas and Las Vegas, and AT&T will launch its LTE network in 2011.

"We are trying to drive awareness of video," said Colson Hillier, executive director of multimedia and entertainment at Verizon Wireless. "It is rapidly becoming one of the most significant drivers of traffic."

And sports-related programming is just the killer app the Telco needs to make those LTE networks profitable.