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.
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.
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!
Have a question about new TV technologies? Send it to The TV Answer Man at firstname.lastname@example.org Please include your first name and hometown in your message.
— Phillip Swann