DIRECTV has acknowledged at its web site that it may not continue carrying the NFL Sunday Ticket beyond the 2019 season.
Sports Business Journal, and a few other publications, have reported that DIRECTV’s eight-year agreement with the NFL gives the league the right to opt-out following the 2019 season, which would be three years before the pact expires. There is no word from league officials that they will take this action, but the promise of an even more lucrative deal with an ambitious live streaming service (think Amazon or Google) might persuade them to do so.
DIRECTV (nor its owner, AT&T) has not issued a public comment on the reports, including whether they are even true. But the satcaster recently posted new language in the terms of its customer agreement that suggests the Ticket may not be available after the 2019 season.
In its promotion that permits new customers to get the Ticket for free in 2019 if they sign a two-year agreement, DIRECTV now states: “NFL Sunday Ticket subscription will renew automatically in 2020 and each season thereafter, provided that DIRECTV carries these services, (italics ours) at the then prevailing rate unless you call to change or cancel by the date specified in your renewal notice.”
This is in contrast to the language in the terms of agreement for past seasons. For instance, in 2018, the language simply stated: “(NFL Sunday Ticket) Subscription renews automatically each season at then prevailing rate unless you call to cancel prior to the start of the season.”
There was no reference to whether the NFL Sunday Ticket might not be available in future seasons.
DIRECTV, which has owned the exclusive rights to the Sunday Ticket since its inception in 1994, arguably can not afford to lose the popular sports package. The satellite TV service has lost hundreds of thousands of subscribers in the last several months, and the loss of the Ticket as an exclusive feature could accelerate the defection rate.
But DIRECTV was forced to pay more than $12 billion for the last exclusive contract, and new owner AT&T may not be inclined to pony up again.
— Phillip Swann
Photo credit: Free photo from Pexels.com.