Phillip Swann, editor of TV Answer Man, and the former editor of TVPredictions.com, is making several predictions for what will happen in the TV technology industry in 2022. His first prediction reveals which company, or companies, will get the next NFL Sunday Ticket contract after the current one with DIRECTV expires.
The NFL Sunday Ticket, which has been a DIRECTV exclusive since its launch in 1994, is the one of the most coveted products in the TV sports industry. Over the years, the package of out-of-market NFL Sunday afternoon games has generated millions of new subscribers for DIRECTV.
But the satcaster’s contract with the league expires after the 2022 season. So, will DIRECTV keep the Ticket or will a new streaming venture snare it, continuing the streaming industry’s initiative to supplant the traditional cable and satellite audience?
My prediction is…Yes and Yes.
That’s right. I predict that the next NFL Sunday Ticket contract will be split between two companies — ESPN+ and DIRECTV.
The streaming service, which is owned by Disney, will offer the package to the growing number of Americans who want to watch sports online while DIRECTV will continue to provide it to dish owners who have limited access to high-speed Internet service, or simply prefer satellite over streaming. (Studies have indicated that as many as 40 million Americans do not have a reliable Internet service in their areas.)
By splitting the Ticket, the NFL can reach the largest number of viewers as well as generate the most revenue. (DIRECTV, which has lost five to six million subscribers over the last six years, may no longer be interested in paying the premium price for an exclusive arrangement when the current agreement expires. Disney would also benefit by including DIRECTV in the deal because it would slightly reduce its cost, and remove the headache of trying to sell the Ticket in rural areas and to bars and restaurants.)
While other streaming services such as Amazon, Apple and Peacock may be interested in the online Ticket, ESPN is best suited to deliver it to the consumer because of its vast experience with sports broadcasting and marketing as well as its ability to reach a wide and diverse group of consumers via ESPN+, Hulu and Disney+. (Disney owns all three.)
There’s no doubt in my mind that ESPN+ can generate more Ticket subs than any other streaming service.
And that gives Disney greater motivation to secure the Ticket contract than some of its rivals such as Amazon.
I will also predict that the next contract will be issued in the week before the 2022 Super Bowl to give the league and the winning company (companies) maximum exposure.
Tell me what you think in the comments below, and come back early and often to TV Answer Man for more 2022 predictions.
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— Phillip Swann