TV Answer Man, the Amazon deal with DIRECTV tells me that Amazon is getting the NFL Sunday Ticket contract. What do you think? And do you think they will continue the Thursday Night Football deal for the Sunday Ticket? Seems like it’s the start of a bigger deal. — Todd, Richmond, Virginia.
Todd, as you know, DIRECTV and Amazon yesterday announced a multi-year deal that will permit the satcaster to provide Thursday Night Football broadcasts to more than 300,000 bars, restaurants, hotel lounges and other business venues.
Since Amazon secured the Thursday Night Football game as a streaming exclusive starting with this season, bar and restaurant owners have voiced concerns that their establishments are not equipped to show the games online. However, DIRECTV has been providing NFL Sunday Ticket games to bars and restaurants for more than two decades, a service that is well regarded within the industry. The satcaster should be able to deliver the Amazon games without difficulty.
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Some football fans may be tempted to conclude that Amazon licensed the bars/restaurant business to DIRECTV because it knows it’s getting the Sunday Ticket and it will need a similar arrangement for that Ticket package which includes multiple games at the same time. However, there’s no evidence that the Amazon-DIRECTV deal has anything to do with the Ticket sweepstakes. (Amazon is battling Apple, Google and Disney for the contract starting in 2023. DIRECTV’s current exclusive for the Ticket expires after the 2022 season.)
However, the Amazon-DIRECTV agreement would certainly increase the odds that DIRECTV will be able to sign a similar sublicense arrangement with the streaming company that gets the Ticket contract. If Amazon has concluded it can’t effectively stream one game a week to bars and restaurants, you would have to think any streaming company would be horrified at trying to provide several games at the same time every Sunday. DIRECTV’s longtime bar and restaurant unit is the obvious solution to that problem.
Of course, Apple or Google might be willing to forego the bar and restaurant business, although I suspect the NFL would not approve. (The league wants to expand the Ticket audience, not decrease it.)
It’s also uncertain if the winning Ticket company would be receptive to permitting DIRECTV to sell the Ticket in areas where streaming is limited, a scenario that has been floated in news stories and by anonymous sources. DIRECTV’s nearly three decades of running a satellite TV company gives it an expert view of which areas within zip codes are not Internet-friendly. The streaming company could expand its Ticket audience by allowing DIRECTV to offer the Ticket in those select zones.
Bottom line: We won’t know until we know. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has said a decision might not come until year’s end. But bar and restaurant owners must be feeling better today about their Sunday Ticket offerings after this season.
Todd, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann