TV Answer Man, I have been enjoying your coverage of the NFL Sunday Ticket deal with Google. I have a question for you. Will YouTube allow people to subscribe to just one team or a single game as part of its Ticket plans? That would be ideal for me as a Miami Dolphins fan in LA. MLB does this, right? — Cary, Manhattan Beach, California. 

Cary, 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, Google has not revealed many details about its Ticket intentions, including pricing or in what form the package will be offered. DIRECTV has provided the Ticket in two plans — the $293 base package and the $395 Max package (which includes the RedZone Channel) — but it’s unclear if YouTube TV and YouTube Channels will follow suit. We do know that pricing will likely be similar due to the NFL’s contract with Fox and CBS, but we don’t know if Google will offer the Ticket in one package, two, like DIRECTV, or perhaps even more than that.

We also don’t know if Google will, or can, distribute the Ticket on a single-team basis, or allow the ordering of single games. DIRECTV in past years permitted single-week purchases but did not do so in 2021 or 2022. The satcaster never allowed subscribers to get just one team.

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But Cary, you’re right. MLB.TV, the online plan for the league’s out-of-market games, has a feature where you can just order one team rather than the entire package. (The NBA does this as well for NBA League Pass.) The cost to watch the out-of-market games of one team usually is $20-30 less than the cost of the entire plan. (Note: Local blackout rules still apply for the single team option.)

So, you ask, wouldn’t it be smart for YouTube to do the same with the NFL Sunday Ticket?

Answer: Not necessarily.

Google has agreed to pay $2.2 billion a year to the league for the exclusive rights to the Sunday Ticket. To make that investment worthwhile, the company needs a lot of revenue coming back in Ticket subscriptions.

If YouTube agreed to offer a single team package, more people who otherwise wouldn’t subscribe would undoubtedly sign up. But the problem is that many people who are now willing to pay $300 to $400 for the entire package would undoubtedly downgrade to a sub-$200 single team option, which would mean less revenue overall for Google.

Unlike the MLB and NBA, the NFL has only one client for its package of out-of-market games. And it will soon be Google, which will pay a small fortune for the honor. Consequently, under this scenario, a single team feature is risky.

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Google could make this more tempting by diversifying its revenue and permitting DIRECTV to continue to sell the Ticket in rural areas where streaming is still unreliable. The revenue from DIRECTV would offset some of Google’s investment. But if that doesn’t happen — and it might be a longshot that it will — Google’s $2.2 billion outlay is the determining factor here.

The TV Answer Man will monitor this situation and report back here if anything changes. Until then, happy viewing and stay safe!

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— Phillip Swann