Amazon, Apple and Disney (for ESPN+) have all made bids for the next NFL Sunday Ticket contract, according to a new report from CNBC. However, it appears that a league decision is not imminent due to complications over the structure of the deal.
The report does not say if one bidder is more likely to win. The Puck reported in April that Apple was in “the driver’s seat” to get the next Ticket contract and may have already secured it. But no other publication since has reported that Apple has already been awarded the contract.
DIRECTV, which has held the Sunday Ticket as an exclusive since its launch in 1994, has not bid on the next contract, CNBC says. The satcaster’s current contract to carry the package of out-of-market Sunday afternoon games is set to expire after the 2022 season.
However, the news network says DIRECTV may be eying to make a deal with the winner that would allow it to continue offering the Ticket to bars and restaurants and perhaps its entire satellite audience.
The new Sunday Ticket holder might be interested in that arrangement to offset the costs of acquiring the contract as well as generate additional subscribers and revenue, particularly in rural areas where streaming is still unreliable. CNBC says DIRECTV would likely forward the Ticket subscription revenue to the new Ticket rights holder but continuing to carry the Ticket would help reduce its subscriber churn.
“An agreement, if reached, could lessen the financial burden for the winning streaming platform,” CNBC writes. “DIRECTV is interested in maintaining a relationship with bars and restaurants. Sunday Ticket is a staple in sports bars that use the game package to bring in fans of nonlocal games, most of whom have no other way to watch their favorite team. Sunday Ticket is also popular with sports gamblers who want to see multiple games at the same time.
CNBC continues: “DIRECTV would also consider acting as a residential pass-through. Under such an agreement, it could transfer all revenue for Sunday Ticket to the rights owner but still offer it to customers. This would allow DirecTV to mitigate churn while reducing switching costs for consumers. It would also backstop any potential streaming latency or reliability issues that may come with broadcasting live football over broadband.”
Despite the financial and technical logic of such a partnership, CNBC says it’s unclear if the three bidding companies are interested.
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