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YouTube & The NFL Sunday Ticket: Why Is It So Damn Expensive?

By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman

TV Answer Man, I can’t understand why YouTube’s prices for the Sunday Ticket are so high. I thought they would be at least $100 cheaper than DIRECTV. What are they thinking?! — Jason, Reno, Nevada. 

Jason, YouTube yesterday revealed its rates for this season’s NFL Sunday Ticket and the numbers seem to have triggered some sticker shock among fans who were expecting price breaks compared to DIRECTV’s Ticket prices.

The streamer said YouTube TV subscribers can subscribe to the base 2023 Sunday Ticket plan for $249 if they order by June 6. DIRECTV charged $293 for its base package of out-of-market Sunday afternoon games. A Ticket bundle, which includes the games and the NFL RedZone channel, is available for $289.

However, if YouTube TV subscribers don’t get the Ticket by June 6, the base price jumps to $349 and the bundle price rises to $389.

If you order the Sunday Ticket separately via YouTube’s Primetime Channels, which does not require a YouTube TV subscription, the presale price is $349 for the season. If you wait until after June 6, the price jumps to $449.

YouTube Primetime Channels viewers will have to pay $389 for the Ticket bundle if they order by June 6 and $489 after June 6.

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The streaming service said fans will be able to order the football package in the coming days.

While the prices are higher than DIRECTV — with the exception of the June 6 discount for YouTube TV customers — there are some sound reasons for the increase.

1. DIRECTV did not raise the Sunday Ticket price for four years.
The last time that DIRECTV raised the price of the football package for existing subs was in 2018 when it increased the fee by 4.2 percent. The satcaster decided to use the Ticket as a vehicle to attract new subscribers and keep old ones rather than try to make a profit with it. (It was never really profitable for DIRECTV.) Consequently, it kept prices the same because it helped subscriber retention. But while prices stood still, inflation did not. The YouTube price increase reflects what would have been DIRECTV’s Ticket rates if it had continued to raise prices over the last four years.

2. The NFL contract requires YouTube to sell the Ticket for a premium price.
Even if Google, YouTube’s owner, wanted to slash Ticket prices, its contract with the league would not permit it. Why? Fox and CBS, which produce and broadcasts the Sunday afternoon games shown on the Ticket, do not want the price to be so low that a large number of fans watch the Ticket rather than their local affiliates. The Ticket’s audience has been around two million each season and the networks are okay with that.

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3. Google is paying more than $2 billion a year for the Ticket. DIRECTV ‘only’ paid $1.2 billion a year.
Google is a business like any other. The company paid an additional $1 billion a year over what DIRECTV paid for the Ticket’s rights, according to multiple news reports. It has to try to recoup that expenditure somehow and higher Ticket prices is the most obvious way. The $50, limited-time discount for YouTube TV subscribers may also help because it would force fans to sign up for the $72 a month live streaming service by June, three months before the season starts. That could add a significant number of new YouTube TV subscribers for three months longer than otherwise.

YouTube TV’s Sunday Ticket prices may seem high, but the company has little choice but to set the rates that it did.

Jason, hope that makes sense. Happy viewing and stay safe!

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— Phillip Swann

5 thoughts on “YouTube & The NFL Sunday Ticket: Why Is It So Damn Expensive?

    1. I wonder I worked for a cable company and customers would get rid of packages then pay a high price this another cable bill plus the buffering

  1. Even at $489 for the season, at two million subscribers youtube will still lose a billion dollars a year. Do they think there are still a couple of million of hard core pro football fans out there who have held out for Directv to give up the rights and will rush to sign up? This doesn’t add up.

  2. I’d love to know how many “concurrent streams” they are ultimately going to offer a sub for that “base” price. I’ve read 2 (not including Red Zone if you are paying for that). I’m one of those kooks who has 4 TV’s set up in the basement. When I had Sunday Ticket thru D* I could watch any game I wanted on the boxes in all/any TV in the whole house. Now with streaming of the Ticket being told you can only watch 2 Sunday Ticket games at the same time is really going to suck.
    I don’t care about Multiview…and please don’t use the “but you can watch CBS/Fox games on your local channels” at the same time on the other TV’s.

    If I’m going to pay that much money I want a bit more than 2 feeds at once.

    And I HATE the use of the vague term “Base” package…..makes me think that if I want more than 2 streams it’s going to be another $xx.xx dollars for that option.

    And how are they going to price this for bars/restaurants who have dozens of TV’s?

  3. How many people watch the NFL on Sunday people are being taking advantage of because of these corporate prices to benefit them and not think about the average working men these days how sad.

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