Q. I remember reading awhile back that DIRECTV could lose the NFL Sunday Ticket starting next year. But I haven’t seen anything about this lately. What’s up with this? If they lose it, they will lose me, too!! — Gary, Big Spring, Texas.
Gary, you’re right. In 2015, DIRECTV signed an eight-year agreement with the National Football League to carry the Sunday Ticket as an exclusive, meaning no other pay TV operator could offer it. The $12 billion deal covered seasons 2015 through 2022. (Note: DIRECTV has had the Sunday Ticket as an exclusive since its launch in 1994.)
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However, there was a loophole in the agreement. The NFL could opt-out after the 2019 season and sell the rights to another pay TV service. Earlier this year, the clause triggered numerous articles about the possibility of DIRECTV losing the popular package of Sunday afternoon games, particularly after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell openly discussed selling the Ticket to another operator.
But the deadline for the league opting out has passed, again leaving DIRECTV as the sole carrier of the Sunday Ticket. (And, despite speculation to the contrary, there appears to be no evidence that the NFL will sell a separate online package to a company such as Amazon or Google.)
In fact, DIRECTV is now offering the remainder of the 2019 Sunday Ticket and the 2020 edition for free to new subscribers who sign up for its Choice (or higher) programming package. So you can bet the ranch that the satcaster will have the Ticket next season.
Why did the league decide against opting out?
AT&T, DIRECTV’s owner, has agreed to pay roughly $1.5 billion a year for the exclusive rights to the Ticket. While that may not seem like an excessive sum to a deep-pocketed outfit like Amazon or Google, it’s highly unlikely that the NFL could get more from any company. The Ticket is still a very popular plan, but its value has diminished some in recent years due to the launch of the Red Zone channel.
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— Phillip Swann