TV Answer Man, I read your article about DIRECTV Stream not having the rights to carry the NFL Sunday Ticket. Do you think this is why they don’t carry the NFL Network and RedZone Channel, too? — Ryan, Lafayette, Louisiana.
Ryan, you’re right. DIRECTV Stream, the online sister to DIRECTV’s satellite TV offering, is not permitted to sell the NFL Sunday Ticket, as detailed here in my article from last month. The NFL Sunday Ticket remains an exclusive of DIRECTV.
But while DIRECTV Stream’s lineup includes more regional sports channels than any other live streamer, it does not include the NFL Network or the NFL RedZone Channel, either. The omission has left many sports fans frustrated, and in search of the reasons why.
But I can say with confidence that it’s not because it’s prohibited in the NFL Sunday Ticket contract.
When it was known as AT&T TV (and DIRECTV Now before that), DIRECTV Stream actually carried both the NFL Network and the RedZone Channel! However, the streamer dropped them in 2019, saying it was trying to manage “content costs.”
Sports Business Journal reported at the time that AT&T’s decision to drop the two channels caught NFL executives by surprise. (AT&T was then the sole owner of DIRECTV and AT&T TV; it now owns 70 percent after a minority stake sale to private equity firm, TPG.) The article suggested that AT&T may be using the channels as leverage to secure the next Sunday Ticket contract and/or negotiate a better deal for the current one by bundling the NFL Network, the RedZone Channel and the Ticket for perhaps both the satellite service and the streaming venture. (DIRECTV’s exclusive deal for the Ticket expires after the 2022 season.)
Since the league has yet to issue the next Sunday Ticket contract, it’s possible this strategy is still in play, which could be why DIRECTV Stream has not resumed carrying the NFL Network and the RedZone Channel more than two years later.
The TV Answer Man will continue to monitor the Ticket talks and report back here if anything significant occurs. Until then, happy viewing, and stay safe!
Have a question about new TV technologies? Send it to The TV Answer Man at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your first name and hometown in your message.
— Phillip Swann