Q. Why doesn’t DIRECTV offer a single team plan with the NFL Sunday Ticket like Major League Baseball does with the MLB.TV package? It seems to me that a lot more people would subscribe if they would just get one team for less money rather than having to get the whole plan for $300! — Tom, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Tom, you’re right. MLB.TV, the online plan for the league’s out-of-market games, has a feature where you can just order one team rather than the entire package. The cost to watch the out-of-market games of one team usually is $20-30 less than the cost of the entire plan. (Note: Local blackout rules still apply for the single team option.)
The NBA also does this with NBA.TV, charging $149.99 for all out-of-market games, but only $89.99 to watch a single team’s gmaes.
So, you ask, wouldn’t it be smart for DIRECTV to do the same with the NFL Sunday Ticket?
AT&T, which owns DIRECTV, pays $1.5 billion a year to the league for the exclusive rights to the Sunday Ticket. To make that investment worthwhile, the telco needs a lot of revenue coming back in Ticket subscriptions.
If AT&T agreed to offer a single team package, more people who now don’t subscribe would undoubtedly sign up. But the problem is that many people who now pay $300 to $400 for the entire package would undoubtedly downgrade to a sub-$200 single team option, which would mean less revenue overall for AT&T.
Unlike the MLB and NBA, the NFL has only one client for its package of out-of-market games. And it’s AT&T which pays a small fortune for the honor. Consequently, under this scenario, a single team feature simply doesn’t work.
Now, in future years, when the league allows a non-DIRECTV service to distribute the games via streaming, this could change. It would depend, of course, on how much the streaming company was forced to pay for the rights. If the price tag is not too unwieldy, it could make economic sense to offer both a cheaper single team plan and the more-expensive total plan.
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— Phillip Swann