TV Answer Man, I’ve been following the coverage of who will get the next NFL Sunday Ticket contract after DIRECTV’s contract is over. I keep reading that Comcast and Peacock isn’t expected to try to get the contract. Why is that? I would think it would be a good fit, don’t you? — Peter, Columbia, Maryland.
Peter, DIRECTV’s exclusive agreement to carry the NFL Sunday Ticket is scheduled to expire after the 2022 season. Disney has publicly expressed interest in securing the next contract for its streaming service, ESPN+, and several publications have reported that other companies may be interested as well, including Amazon and Apple. (DIRECTV may also seek to retain the satellite rights to the Ticket as part of a split contract that would also include one of the streaming companies.)
But most journalists covering the NFL Ticket talks oddly omit Comcast and its NBC-managed streaming service, Peacock, from the list of possible candidates. For example:
Front Office Sports
“Peacock, NBCUniversal’s flagship service, is not expected to contend for Sunday Ticket.”
“NBCUniversal’s Peacock isn’t expected to be a serious competitor for the rights, a source said.”
“NBC’s Peacock service is not expected to be a player for the Sunday Ticket package.”
“Peacock is not expected to make a bid.”
Several other publications have echoed the belief that Peacock is not a serious player for the Ticket, often without attribution. The stories simply say it’s not expected.
I’ll guess that the publications are basing their assumptions on the CNBC report of September 10; that’s how many misinformed assumptions get started these days. One publication writes something (often quoting an anonymous source) and everyone jumps in with a similar report without verifying the first report is correct. In time, the original, and possibly incorrect, report is considered a proven fact when it may not be at all.
In this case, it seems premature to declare Peacock is out as a Sunday Ticket competitor.
Because NBC Chairman Pete Bevacqua says his network, which runs Peacock, is not out.
“No decisions (about the Sunday Ticket) have been made on (the NFL’s) part and certainly not on our part,” Bevacqua told Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand at a recent industry event. “But it would be negligent on us not to take a deep dive into any one of these key elements of the NFL…Obviously we’re interested in any kind of conversation with the NFL where we could deepen our partnership with them.”
Bevacqua dodged Ourand’s question whether NBC (and Comcast) has actually made a bid for the Ticket, choosing instead to say that the network would be interested in discussing it.
But Comcast has a host of resources (and motivations) to make a serious bid for the Sunday Ticket. Comcast could use it to generate subs for Peacock, for its cable TV service, which is available in 40 states, and Flex, its new streaming device that could become a hot commodity with the Sunday Ticket as a streaming-exclusive feature.
So I wouldn’t rule out Comcast yet. The company may just surprise everyone before this over.
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— Phillip Swann