TV Answer Man, I just read that ESPN is getting the next Sunday Ticket contract. What do you know about that? When will it happen? If it’s true, I’m cancelling DIRECTV! — Tim, Pittsburgh. 

Tim, the National Football League today announced a series of new television deals which include giving Amazon the exclusive out-of-market rights to Thursday Night Football starting with the 2023 season. The agreements also reup CBS, NBC and Disney for Sunday afternoon and night broadcasts and Monday Night Football coverage.

However, the announcement did not include any reference to the NFL Sunday Ticket, which DIRECTV has carried exclusively since 1994, and has a contract to continue that exclusive carriage through the 2022 season.

What you read is a report from radio host Craig Carton of WFAN in New York who says sources tell him that ESPN+, the streaming service, will replace DIRECTV as the provider of the Sunday Ticket contract when it expires.

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However, before you cancel your DIRECTV subscription, note that Carton’s original article said DIRECTV would lose the Sunday Ticket in 2024. I read that and wrote on Twitter that he was wrong; the satcaster’s contract ends after the 2022 season. After my tweet was retweeted and ‘liked’ by numerous Twitter users, WFAN edited its story to reflect the current contract ends after 2022.

I’m not saying that Carton’s error is cause to conclude that his entire article is wrong. But I am dubious. No one else has reported that ESPN+ will land the Sunday Ticket deal. No one. In fact, an NFL spokesperson told Peter Kafka of Recode that the contract “remains” with DIRECTV. That doesn’t mean it will after 2022, as some are assuming the NFL statement meant. But it does mean the league is not confirming the Carton report.

A few weeks ago, an industry analyst said he was told that Amazon was in the “driver’s seat” to get the Sunday Ticket, an assertion I then counseled to take with a grain of salt. And I’m going to do the same now with Carton. He might be right, but I am dubious.

Update: Carton’s suggestion that an ESPN deal is imminent should be discounted after network chairman Jimmy Pitaro today told reporters he would be interested in discussing the Sunday Ticket ‘when those talks start up.’ It sounds like the league isn’t ready to award a contract despite the Carton report. 

Tim, hope that helps. Happy viewing, and stay safe!

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— Phillip Swann