TV Answer Man, I am confused. I know DIRECTV is saying it will have the Sunday Ticket this season, but is this the last season it will have it? And are you sure it will have the Sunday Ticket this year? I’ve seen articles saying ESPN got the contract and that DIRECTV no longer has the Sunday Ticket. Is that true? I have DIRECTV and I would cancel it if they don’t have it. — Ben, Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. 

Ben, there’s no wonder that you and many other football fans are confused about the Sunday Ticket situation. One radio host in New York has reported that ESPN+, the streaming service, has won the rights to the next Sunday Ticket contract while others have written that DIRECTV no longer has the popular package of NFL out-of-market games.

Let me try to clarify the situation.

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First, DIRECTV still has a contract with the league to offer the Sunday Ticket as an exclusive for the next two seasons: 2021 and 2022. Even this basic fact has been a point of contention among journalists, some of whom have reported that DIRECTV’s contract ends after this season. But that’s not the case. AT&T, which owns DIRECTV, said recently at an investors meeting that the contract has two years left.

Second, the NFL has not said which company, or companies, will get the next Sunday Ticket contract. The league recently announced a slew of new TV deals for properties such as Monday Night Football and Thursday Night Football, but not the Sunday Ticket. (The radio host’s report was at least premature, if not totally wrong.)

ESPN has said it’s interested in pursuing the Sunday Ticket rights, and several other companies could be as well, including AT&T for DIRECTV. That’s right. Don’t dismiss the possibility that DIRECTV could retain a slice of the next Sunday Ticket contract, sharing it with a streaming company. (You can see my story here on which companies have the best chance of getting the Sunday Ticket.)

So, Ben, you don’t have to worry about losing the Sunday Ticket this year or next, or perhaps even beyond that.

Happy viewing, and stay safe!

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— Phillip Swann