Q. I have DIRECTV, but I am thinking of getting AT&T TV or AT&T TV Now. But before I do, do they have the NFL Sunday Ticket? If I can’t get it, then I will stay with DIRECTV. — Maddie, Joliet, Illinois. 

Maddie, before I answer your question, you should know that there are ways to get the online NFL Sunday Ticket without a subscription to any pay TV service, owned by AT&T or not. See our article for more information. Not everyone is eligible so you can check if you are on this page.

Now to your question: Neither AT&T TV or AT&T TV Now offer the NFL Sunday Ticket. In 2018, AT&T TV Now did permit subscribers in seven markets to purchase the streaming edition of the football package. But that feature ended in 2019, and AT&T has not brought it back for the 2020 season.

You might wonder why the two AT&T-branded TV services don’t have the Sunday Ticket, considering that the AT&T-owned DIRECTV does. Well, it’s a combination of rights and marketing.

AT&T uses the Sunday Ticket to generate subscribers for DIRECTV. By keeping it exclusive to the satellite TV service, it forces football fans to sign up to get the package which offers all out-of-market Sunday afternoon games.

Okay, then why is AT&T offering the Sunday Ticket to some non-DIRECTV subscribers in 29 markets, as revealed in our article from last week? Couldn’t that hurt DIRECTV’s subscription efforts?

The answer is yes, but AT&T is calculating that the impact will be manageable.

The company is balancing the possible loss of DIRECTV revenue versus the potential gain of offering the Sunday Ticket to select consumers in those 29 markets. Clearly, AT&T has concluded that it’s a net gain and therefore worth the risk.

However, if AT&T suddenly offered the Sunday Ticket to all AT&T TV Now subscribers, it’s likely that a large number of DIRECTV subscribers would drop their service and get AT&T TV Now.

Why? AT&T TV Now is cheaper, and doesn’t require a two-year contract or cancellation fees. So when the football season is over, those former DIRECTV subscribers who signed up would probably drop AT&T TV Now.

AT&T TV requires a two-year contract, and has cancellation fees. But we don’t know if AT&T has the rights to offer the Sunday Ticket on that service; it never has before. (We also don’t know if AT&T TV Now still has the rights, either.)

Maddie, I’m sure this sounds quite complicated. But TV isn’t easy anymore, whether it’s the business of television or even simply watching it.

Hope that helps. Happy viewing, and stay safe!

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— Phillip Swann