By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman

TV Answer Man, I thought the NFL and YouTube were going to offer different Sunday Ticket packages with fewer games and reduced prices. What the heck happened to that? Was that just a big smokescreen to trick us into thinking it would be different? These prices are crazy!! Please advise. — Maury, Sacramento, California. 

Maury, you have a good memory. Before I answer your question, a little background on YouTube’s pricing for the 2023 NFL Sunday Ticket.

YouTube and YouTube TV last 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.)

The Ticket’s rates were also a disappointment for anyone who remembers an interview that NFL chief media officer Brian Rolapp gave earlier this year to the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand and Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand. The football executive said the league and YouTube were considering offering a Ticket package of fewer games for less money.

“We’re also thinking about, but haven’t made any decisions, do you create a new product? Do you do a lighter version? We haven’t made any decisions there, but you will see that. I don’t know if we’ll go team-by-team, but could you get fewer games for a lesser price? I think that’s all up for debate and conversation,” Rolapp told the two reporters.

He added: “I think there’s probably a lot of opportunity between the ‘all you can eat’ and free television. I think there’s a lot of room there to explore.”

The interview triggered several articles suggesting that a lower-priced Sunday Ticket was in the works. However, when the plans were revealed last week, there was no single-team plan, single-game or week plan or any package with fewer games for less money. In fact, most YouTube plan options carry a price tag significantly higher than DIRECTV.

What happened to Sunday Ticket Lite?

Well, it’s still possible that YouTube could unveil additional plans before the season starts in September. But I will reiterate what I have said in previous columns at this site: Google is paying $1 billion more a year for the Ticket’s rights than what DIRECTV paid. I don’t think company executives are thrilled with the idea of offering cheaper subscriptions, albeit for fewer games.

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

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— Phillip Swann