If you're a fan of the National Football League, your decision about what carrier to choose for your new iPhone 4S just got a lot easier. It's simple really, go with Verizon Wireless and download NFL Mobile from the App Store.
Verizon Wireless has a four-year exclusive contract with the National Football League -- a deal the WSJ values at $720 million -- making it the only mobile phone provider that can deliver live video from NFL games.
This means that if you want to watch NFL games on your iPhone you must be on the Verizon Wireless CDMA network (and in the U.S.). NFL Mobile is also available on the Android Market, but only to devices running on VZW.
iPhone users on Verizon Wireless can use the NFL Mobile app to watch every ESPN Monday Night Football, NBC Sunday Night Football & NFLN Thursday Night Football game. If that wasn't enough, you can also watch every touchdown from every game live on NFL RedZone. It still doesn't have live video from every game on Sunday afternoon (like Sunday Ticket, for example), but it's amazingly slick to be able to catch the game while you're mobile.
Although NFL Mobile is free on VZW's 4G/LTE devices, the iPhone doesn't qualify and a premium Verizon Video subscription is required ($3/day, $10/month) to access live in-game video.
One interesting aspect about the distribution of the NFL Mobile app is that Apple is filtering and restricting certain apps in the App Store by carrier. In other words, you can't download the NFL Mobile app when accessing the App Store from an iPhone on AT&T (or other non-VZW carrier). Certain apps are only visible when visiting from certain carriers. (Could Android's notorious fragmentation be creeping into iOS and the App Store?)
Only Verizon devices will carry the NFL, at least through 2014. While it's bad news for iPad/iPhone users on AT&T, it's great news if you're on Verizon.
Updated with screenshots from the Monday night game on the iPhone 4S over 3G in the greater Philadelphia region: