TV Answer Man, what is taking so long for the NFL to make a decision on the next Sunday Ticket contract? I desperately want another company to get it so DIRECTV can’t screw it up anymore. Are there any updates at all?! — Todd, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. 

Todd, DIRECTV’s current agreement to exclusively carry the NFL Sunday Ticket expires after the 2022 season and news reports have said Apple, Amazon, Disney (for ESPN+) and Google have all made bids for the next contract.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told CNBC during the summer that he expects the league to make a decision by the fall (a squishy timeframe considering the fall season started last week and extends until December 20). He added that he believes the winner will be a streaming company.

But what is taking the league so long to make a final decision? Many industry observers thought Goodell would disclose the news at last February’s Super Bowl, if not sooner.

A New York Times report this week suggests that Apple is still the current front-runner to get the Ticket, which is not news; several publications have previously reported the same. But the Times says talks between the league and the notoriously prickly Apple have “dragged” over the final price, among other issues. The NFL wants $2.5 billion a year for the Ticket, which would be a $1 billion increase over DIRECTV’s annual payment.

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The league has become so frustrated with the pace of the negotiations that it has tried to persuade other companies to make bids, the article states.

“The NFL has signaled its frustration with Apple by reaching out to representatives at other media companies to encourage them to put forward a bid, according to two people familiar with the outreach,” the Times writes. “But some of those companies have been wary of becoming a tool that the NFL. can use to induce a bigger offer from Apple.”

This doesn’t mean that Apple will lose the Ticket to another company, the Times reports. Despite the stalemate over the Ticket, Apple and the league last week signed a multi-year deal that calls for Apple Music to sponsor the Super Bowl halftime show, which was previously sponsored by Pepsi. But the fact that the league has renewed efforts to spark interest among other companies might suggest it’s far from a done deal.

“Though the N.F.L. has discussed Sunday Ticket with Google, Amazon and ESPN, its most extensive negotiations have been with Apple,” the newspaper writes. “Executives at both the league and the tech giant have told business partners that they expect to get a deal done, according to the people familiar with the negotiations. But the talks have been complicated by the N.F.L.’s decision to sell several assets simultaneously, including Sunday Ticket, the halftime show and N.F.L. Media properties such as N.F.L. Network and the RedZone channel.”

The TV Answer Man will continue to monitor this situation and report back here if anything significant occurs.

Until then, happy viewing and stay safe!

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— Phillip Swann