By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman

TV Answer Man, can you explain to me why YouTube can’t have a single team plan as part of the Sunday Ticket subscription when the NBA and MLB have single team plans? Is this just a blunder on their part? A lot of people, me included, would get the single team plan if it were a bit less expensive. Come on, YouTube. — Jamal, Riverdale, California.

Jamal, YouTube and YouTube TV this week announced the pricing for the 2023 NFL Sunday Ticket with the highest priced plan (games and RedZone for YouTube standalone subs) going for $489 after June 6. See this article for more details.

The prices surprised some fans who were expecting (or, at least, hoping) for a price break compared to what DIRECTV charged for the Ticket. (YouTube’s plans are more expensive unless you are a YouTube TV sub who orders the base plan before June 6. That plan is actually $44 less than DIRECTV, although the satcaster might counter that it provided the Ticket for free to new customers. Free trumps all.)

Google, which owns YouTube, also did not include a less expensive, single-team plan in the mix, another point of fan frustration according to social media posts. While DIRECTV did not offer a single-team package either, some people thought that Google and YouTube would be different. (DIRECTV in past years did permit single-week purchases but did not do so in 2021 or 2022.)

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Fans noted that 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 have been 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 anywhere from $249 to $489 for the entire package would undoubtedly downgrade to a sub-$200 single team option, which could 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’s Google which has agreed to pay a small fortune for the honor. Consequently, a single team would be risky, possibly triggering an economic bath.

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

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— Phillip Swann