TV Answer Man, I am excited about YouTube getting the Sunday Ticket. Do you think they will charge us less than DIRECTV? Will they just include the Ticket with a YouTube TV subscription? — Jamal, Riverside, California. 

Jamal, Google last week won the rights to the NFL Sunday Ticket, agreeing to pay the league more than $2 billion a year to distribute it as an add-on plan on YouTube TV and as a standalone subscription on YouTube Primetime Channels. The package of out-of-market Sunday afternoon games will be available on the two YouTube services starting with the 2023 season.

However, before you start waiting for a price break, you should know that multiple news reports said Apple wanted to include the Sunday Ticket with its $6.99 a month Apple TV+ subscription but the NFL balked due to restrictions in its contracts with Fox and CBS. The Puck and others noted this was a key reason why Apple walked away from the negotiations. (Sports Business Journal was the first to report the pricing restrictions in the Fox and CBS agreements with the league.)

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CBS and Fox, which spent billions on the Sunday afternoon games on the package, doesn’t want a large part of their audience watching them on the Ticket. They want fans to tune in to their local network affiliates. This ensures a better rating and more advertising dollars.

Because of these preexisting conditions, if you will, YouTube TV will likely have to charge something similar to DIRECTV’s base price of $293 for the entire season of the Sunday Ticket.

Now that doesn’t mean that Google won’t have some flexibility in pricing. DIRECTV has included a free year of the NFL Sunday Ticket in new customer packages for a few years. YouTube TV could do something similar.

Google also could charge a lower price for the Ticket via YouTube TV (vs. YouTube Channels). This could encourage people to subscribe to YouTube TV so they could then subscribe to the reduced-price Sunday Ticket plan. By example, the YouTube TV edition of the Ticket could cost $20-30 less than the YouTube Channels version. Google would make up the difference in additional YouTube TV subs, which now start at $64.99 a month.

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As we get closer to the 2023 season, Google will unveil pricing and other details and it will be fascinating to see what the company has planned.

Until then, happy viewing and stay safe!

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— Phillip Swann