TV Answer Man, I am excited about Apple getting the NFL Sunday Ticket so we don’t have to get DIRECTV to watch it. Do you think Apple will sell a single game or team plan like MLB.TV has? — Bob, Cleveland.
Bob, for starters, Apple hasn’t won the next NFL Sunday Ticket contract. Not yet. Multiple news reports say Apple is the leader but Amazon, Disney (for ESPN+) and Google (for YouTube or YouTube TV) are still in the running.
Brian Rolapp, the league’s chief media and business officer, recently told The New York Times that “a number of companies are in a strong position to potentially land Sunday Ticket, but we still have a ways to go in this process.”
(DIRECTV now has the rights to the package of out-of-market Sunday afternoon games, but the satcaster has said publicly that it’s not interested in continuing as an exclusive carrier when its current pact expires after the 2022 season. DIRECTV has said it hopes to share the Ticket with a streaming company after this upcoming season. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says he believes a streaming company will get the next Ticket contract.)
But if the Ticket deal goes to any new company, as expected, will it sell the Ticket differently than DIRECTV? Could it offer the package in single team or single game plans as well as the traditional way of including all out-of-market Sunday afternoon games for a single price? (DIRECTV used to offer single week plans but stopped last season.)
The bidding companies have not publicized their plans for the Ticket so it’s difficult to say. However, a recent Sports Illustrated guest column by Rolapp has sparked speculation that a single team or game option could be added starting in 2023.
“NFL Sunday Ticket has been a fan staple since its inception in 1994, providing a way for avid fans to watch all the NFL games played Sunday,” Rolapp wrote. “But we believe it can be a lot better and we are planning a new rollout of NFL Sunday Ticket for the 2023 season. While we are not ready to reveal that just yet, one thing we can say is it will be more innovative, accessible and digital.”
The key word here is innovative. While that could mean anything, previous news reports have quoted anonymous sources as saying Apple is considering offering single game plans if it gets the Ticket. Some journalists have tied the Rolapp statement with the previous reports to suggest single game or team plans are in the works.
Bottom line: It’s certainly possible that a streaming company will try to maximize revenue and viewership by offering the Ticket in multiple ways. But until the league makes its decision — expected by year’s end — we won’t know for sure.
Bob, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann