Q. I’m very concerned about DIRECTV losing the NFL Sunday Ticket. Do you know when that could happen? Will it be this season? — Carlo, Milwaukee.
Carlo, as you probably know, The National Football League has an opt-out clause in its eight-year contract with DIRECTV that allows it to sell the rights to the package of Sunday afternoon games to other providers. (The eight-year deal is now in its fifth year.)
The opt-out enables the league to sell the plan as an exclusive to another provider, or it could allow DIRECTV to continue carrying it while another distributor offers it as well. And, of course, the NFL could allow DIRECTV to keep its exclusive for the remaining years of the agreement.
As to your second question, the league can not opt-out of the DIRECTV deal for the 2019 season. In other words, you have nothing to worry about this year. The opt-out, if it’s implemented, would begin with the 2020 season.
And for your first question, the NFL must decide whether to opt-out by this September.
DIRECTV, which is now owned by AT&T, paid $1.5 billion for the exclusive rights to the Sunday Ticket so the league is weighing whether it can make more money by going exclusively with a different provider or splitting the rights between multiple providers.
For instance, it could sell non-exclusive rights to DIRECTV and also allow a major streamer such as Amazon or Apple to offer the Ticket. The combination of the two deals could exceed the price of the original DIRECTV agreement. (It’s also possible, but highly unlikely, that AT&T would pay extra to keep the Ticket as an exclusive.)
So Carlo, we should know in the next few months what the league plans to do with the Sunday Ticket. But you can rest assured that you will be able to watch it on DIRECTV, and only DIRECTV, this season.
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— Phillip Swann
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