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DirecTV Looks RIP Thanks to Loss of NFL Sunday Ticket

DirecTV Dish. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

The more than two-year saga of the NFL’s quest to find a streaming home for the NFL Sunday Ticket package has finally come to an end, with a surprising conclusion. 

After the NFL was reported to be in talks with Apple for much of the year about bringing the package to Apple TV+, the NFL has announced that its partner will not be Apple but rather Google

YouTube TV and YouTube Primetime Channels will be the exclusive homes for NFL Sunday Ticket starting with the 2023 season. Sportico reported that the financial terms of the deal are 7 years and $14 billion. 

“We’re excited to bring NFL Sunday Ticket to YouTube TV and YouTube Primetime Channels and usher in a new era of how fans across the United States watch and follow the NFL,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said.

“For a number of years we have been focused on increased digital distribution of our games and this partnership is yet another example of us looking towards the future and building the next generation of NFL fans.”

Fans will not necessarily need to be YouTube TV subscribers to get Sunday Ticket; it will be available standalone as part of YouTube Primetime Channels. There is no word yet on the price point for the package, or whether it will offer fans the chance to subscribe to the games of one particular team or individual games. 

The package carries games on Sunday afternoons that are on CBS and FOX, so Google will not need to produce its own broadcasts. 

What Is Sunday Ticket?

Sunday ticket, which launched in 1994, is the out-of-market package that is available for fans to watch games that aren’t available in their home market. It provides value to fans who root for a different team from the home team in the area in which they live. Many Sunday Ticket customers are bars and restaurants, although it is also available to residential subscribers. 

But because it was exclusive to DirecTV subscribers, the NFL has been pushing for years to switch the product to a streamer, which is available to more people. The NFL and Google, the league’s announcement said, “will work together to determine additional ways to support the distribution of NFL Sunday Ticket in commercial establishments such as bars and restaurants.” 

Concerns have been raised of late that some bars and restaurants aren’t equipped to handle streaming sports, with Buffalo Wild Wings, a national chain that makes its status as a football destination a key part of its advertising, reportedly not being set up to handle streaming video

DirecTV In Trouble

The loss of Sunday Ticket, while expected, is likely bad news for DirecTV, which has been bleeding subscribers for several years and will now lose one of its major selling points.

There had been speculation that DirecTV would retain the satellite side of the package, but there has been no announcement to that effect. 

While Apple and the NFL spent much of the NFL season in talks about a Sunday Ticket deal, they were never able to reach a deal, even after the same two entities agreed to make Apple Music the exclusive sponsor of the Super Bowl halftime show. 

The Athletic reported on what went wrong in the talks. 

“Apple reportedly wanted to pay less than the NFL sought so it could offer the product at lower prices than incumbent DirecTV, but the NFL’s contracts with Fox and CBS disallowed that (lower Sunday Ticket prices could drive viewers away from the Sunday afternoon network windows),” that report said. “DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket offerings start at around $300 for a season.”

The two sides also had a disagreement about how the deal would work with “yet non-existent platforms,” such as certain virtual-reality technologies that Apple plans to roll out in the coming years. 

At any rate, the deal now means the NFL is in business with Google (on Sunday Ticket), Amazon (on the Thursday Night Football package), and Apple (on the Super Bowl halftime show.) 

Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Written By

Stephen Silver is a journalist, essayist, and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review, and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.