TV Answer Man, I enjoyed your article on what will happen if DIRECTV doesn’t keep the Sunday Ticket, but how about one on who will gain if DIRECTV loses it? I think there are a lot of us rooting for the Ticket to go to another company! — Todd, Los Angeles.
Todd, you’re right. I wrote an article last week detailing which companies, and people, would be hurt the most if DIRECTV doesn’t keep at least a slice of the NFL Sunday Ticket when its current Ticket deal expires after the 2022 season. You can read the article here.
But what about the companies, and people, who will benefit the most if DIRECTV does lose out? Well, here you go, Todd:
The Winning Company
Matthew Belloni of The Puck reports that an anonymous source tells him that Apple has the Sunday Ticket deal locked up for its Apple TV+ streaming service. However, John Ourand of Sports Business Journal says his sources tell him that both Apple and Amazon are still in contention with ESPN a “distant third.” Regardless of who wins, if a streaming company takes full control of the Sunday Ticket starting with the 2023 season, it should help that company generate a significant number of new subscribers as well as give it a branding boost. In the case of Apple and Amazon, it would also help increase sales of its products by increasing traffic to their sites.
Football Fans (Most)
Since 1994, DIRECTV has had an exclusive agreement with the NFL to provide the Ticket to its satellite TV subscribers. That has prevented millions of fans from getting the out-of-market package of Sunday afternoon games because they either couldn’t install a dish at their residences or didn’t want to. But streaming would allow anyone with access to a decent Internet service to subscribe. That would dramatically increase its availability. Of course, if it were only available via streaming, many rural residents with little or no access to the Internet would be locked out. But the FCC estimates that is only 20 million Americans, a much smaller population than the number of people who have the Net, but don’t have satellite TV.
If a streaming company does get the Ticket as an exclusive, it will likely pay the league far more than the $1.5 billion a year that DIRECTV has been paying for the rights. Some news reports have suggested the final deal will be more than $2 billion and that is probably on the money. The prestige of carrying the Sunday Ticket as an exclusive would certainly be worth that much to either Apple or Amazon, and perhaps ESPN as well.
How on earth does Dish become a winner here? The New York Post reported earlier this year that DIRECTV and Dish are again discussing a merger. If DIRECTV loses the Ticket, it would diminish the company’s value and possibly make it easier for Dish to exact the terms it wants. (You could argue that DIRECTV might not be worth very much to Dish without the Ticket, but that’s another story for another day. )
In the ongoing battle of legacy media vs new media, the awarding of the Sunday Ticket to a streaming company would certainly be a victory for the upstart category. The NFL would essentially be telling the world that it believes streaming is the future, and the future is now. This could encourage other major organizations to initiate additional exclusive deals with streamers.
We still don’t know when the next agreement will be announced, but the TV Answer Man will continue to monitor this situation and report back here if anything significant changes.
Until then, happy viewing and stay safe!
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