Soon you can watch the NFL free on your phone on Yahoo

Soon anyone will be able to download Yahoo’s app and watch football games on the go. Verizon’s new deal with the NFL goes into effect in January 2018 and will last for several years. Verizon bought Yahoo in June 2017 and is trying to build a digital ad business to rival Facebook and Google. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

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.