TV Answer Man, the NFL still hasn’t decided on the next Sunday Ticket contract. Is it getting so late that the league might have to stay with DIRECTV for the 2023 season until it figures out what to do next? How long can it wait before it’s too late for next season? — Glenn, Troy, New York.
Glenn, as you know, DIRECTV’s exclusive 28-year hold on the NFL Sunday Ticket is set to end after the 2022 season and the satcaster has acknowledged that it does not plan to bid on the next contract. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has said he believes that a streaming service will take over starting with the 2023 season.
However, with five weeks left in the 2022 season, the NFL has still not picked a winner in the Ticket sweepstakes and multiple news reports say talks between Apple and the league have stalled over several issues including the final price tag. The New York Times reported late last month that Google is now aggressively pursuing the Ticket for its YouTube TV service while Apple, Amazon and Disney (for ESPN+) remain interested.
The Times article said the NFL’s decision, which once was expected in early 2022, could be delayed until early 2023.
The league’s difficulty in finding a suitable partner for the Ticket has prompted several reader e-mails suggesting that it might have to ask DIRECTV to carry it for one more year. After all, if a streaming company does get the deal, it will need months to execute the right marketing plan and technical infrastructure to ensure the Ticket is successful under its watch. At what point does it become too late to ensure it will have sufficient time to do that?
Well, I don’t think it’s too late yet. The 2023 season is still nine months away. And while the streaming service would want to market the Ticket to potential subscribers several months in advance of the 2023 season, there is still time to do that, even if the decision is not official until the Super Bowl in February.
Consequently, I don’t see the NFL asking DIRECTV to step up for one more year.
However, I can see DIRECTV continuing to provide the Ticket to commercial establishments, particularly bars and restaurants, as it now does for Amazon’s exclusive Thursday Night Football stream. It would make sense for whatever streaming company ultimately wins to strike a similar partnership with DIRECTV for the Sunday Ticket.
It might also make sense for the streamer to allow DIRECTV to sell the Ticket to select rural markets where the Internet (and streaming) is not available or limited. This would widen the Ticket’s audience and help the streaming company offset part of the overall purchase of the Ticket’s rights.
Glenn, hope that makes sense. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann