News and Analysis
Disney CEO Bob Chapek told CNBC yesterday that his company is “bidding” on the rights to the NFL Sunday Ticket after DIRECTV’s current exclusive contract with the league expires after the 2022 season.
“We’re bidding for it,” Chapek said in an interview following the release of the company’s fourth quarter report.
The NFL has been discussing the next agreement with several companies including Disney, Amazon, Apple, DIRECTV and perhaps others, according to various news reports over the last year.
Disney has previously said publicly that it’s interested in the Sunday Ticket for its ESPN+ streaming service, which the company said yesterday now has more than 21 million subscribers. But Chapek’s use of the word, ‘bidding,’ suggests the process has gone beyond the talking stage and could be nearing a final decision with companies making serious offers.
The New York Post reported, last week that Apple is “aggressively” seeking at least a slice of the next Sunday Ticket contract. The newspaper said DIRECTV was likely to retain the satellite rights to the next Ticket contract which would be shared with a streaming company.
The Post added that ESPN and Amazon are also likely strong contenders for the Ticket and that the pending Warner Media/Discovery merger is a “wild card.” The article said that it would “not be shocking if ESPN tried to partner with another platform/network to get the Sunday Ticket package.”
ESPN+ would be an ideal candidate to offer the Ticket as a streaming option. The streaming service’s 21 million subscribers are sports fans and therefore more likely to sign up for the Ticket than Apple and Amazon whose audiences are a mix of different groups.
Disney and ESPN+ also have a strong track record of reliably streaming live sporting events including Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League games.
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— Phillip Swann