For the second straight year, DIRECTV will not raise the price of the NFL Sunday Ticket in 2020 despite a company acknowledgement this week that the costs of offering the package is rising.
The satcaster is again including the package of out-of-market games for free for new subscribers who agree to a two-year contract, and subscribe to a Choice package or higher.
For existing subscribers, DIRECTV’s web site says this season’s Sunday Ticket will cost $293.94 while the Max edition will be $395.94. (The pricing information is contained in the fine print of the offer for new subscribers.)
“2020 NFL SUNDAY TICKET regular full-season retail price is $293.94. 2020 NFL SUNDAY TICKET MAX regular full-season retail price is $395.94. Customers activating CHOICE Package or above or MÁS ULTRA Package or above will be eligible to receive the 2020 season of NFL SUNDAY TICKET MAX at no additional cost,” DIRECTV’s site states.
That was the same prices for the Sunday Ticket in 2018 and 2019.
AT&T, which owns DIRECTV, may be hesitant to raise prices because of reports that the NFL will sell the streaming rights to another company at some point in 2020 or 2021. If that occurred, for the first time since the Ticket’s launch in 1994, DIRECTV would not have the exclusive carriage rights.
DIRECTV’s current eight-year contract with the NFL runs until the completion of the 2022 season. But the league has said publicly that the pact has opt-out clauses, and terms permitting the licensing of streaming rights.
Despite the decision to maintain Ticket prices, AT&T stated this week that the costs incurred with offering the Ticket have increased.
In the company’s 2019 fourth quarter filing, AT&T said operating expenses during the year were “$10.5 billion, down 5.8% year over year due to lower content costs resulting from fewer subscribers and ongoing cost initiatives, partially offset by higher deferral amortization, including a second-quarter 2019 update to expected subscriber lives, and increased costs associated with NFL SUNDAY TICKET.” (Italics ours.)
AT&T did not explain why the Ticket’s costs were higher in 2019. The company agreed to pay $12 billion over the eight years for the rights.
The TV Answer Man has asked AT&T for more information on the Ticket’s prices, but has yet to receive a response.
One more note: In the fine print, DIRECTV says it will no longer automatically renew the Sunday Ticket on customer bills every year unless the customer cancelled. Over the years, subscribers have complained when they saw the next season’s Ticket on their bills in the summer, which required them to call and cancel it prior to the season or otherwise they would be billed for the following season.
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— Phillip Swann