TV Answer Man, as a DIRECTV subscriber, I am mortified and ready to jump ship over the Sunday Ticket news. I hear that the RedZone channel is going away, the Ticket is going away and if all that happens, DIRECTV will go away in my house. Do you know what is going on? — Barry, Lexington, Kentucky.
Barry, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday night that Google is close to securing the NFL Sunday Ticket rights starting with the 2023 season. While a Google victory over Apple and Amazon would be a surprise, the fact that DIRECTV wouldn’t have the exclusive rights to the Ticket after this season would not be. The satcaster has said it did not plan to seek a renewal of the package of out-of-market Sunday afternoon games after carrying it exclusively for 28 years.
However, this is where it gets murky. DIRECTV has signaled that it hopes to retain the Ticket rights for bars and restaurants (and other business venues) in a partnership with whatever streaming company gets the next Ticket contract. The satellite TV service also would like to resell the Ticket to rural areas where streaming is limited or unavailable in such a partnership.
Joe Flint, one of the two Wall Street Journal reporters who broke Tuesday night’s story, told me on Twitter a Google Ticket victory would likely preclude those possibilities. However, FrontOfficeSports.com writes that DIRECTV could continue selling the Ticket to bars and restaurants.
“There’s still a chance the satellite giant could hold on to the ‘commercial’ account encompassing over 300,000 bars and restaurants either directly with the NFL or via sub-license with Google,” the site reports.
Since the NFL has not announced the Google deal yet, it’s too early to say what will happen here. Perhaps when the announcement is made, we’ll get some clarity on the issue.
Update: The Washington Post’s Mark Maske tweeted this morning that the NFL is retaining the commercial side of the Ticket, which could enable DIRECTV to continue serving bars and restaurants.
Now onto the RedZone Channel.
DIRECTV has produced its own version of the RedZone Channel, hosted by Andrew Siciliano, for 18 years and includes it as part of the Sunday Ticket’s Max plan. The NFL started its NFL RedZone channel two years after DIRECTV launched its RedZone and sells it to cable, satellite and streaming pay TV services. (The RedZone channels offer live look-ins at NFL Sunday afternoon games when one team is inside its opponent’s 20-yard-line. If you don’t have the NFL Sunday Ticket, it’s a great and relatively inexpensive way to follow the key moments in all the games.)
The aforementioned FrontOfficeSports.com also reports that the DIRECTV RedZone channel might be eliminated if Google gets the Ticket.
That doesn’t mean DIRECTV subscribers wouldn’t have access to the NFL’s RedZone channel. However, the satcaster would have to sign a carriage agreement with the league, which it has not done before now because it offers its RedZone in the Ticket package.
My guess is that DIRECTV would also have to agree to include the RedZone channel, and the NFL Network, in its DIRECTV Stream lineup. The satcaster’s sister service has not carried the NFL Network since 2019.
Bottom line: There’s a lot to resolve here, but until the NFL makes the Ticket deal an official one, we will have to wait on the sidelines for answers.
Barry, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann