By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man – @tvanswerman

TV Answer Man, I follow your articles about sports and business very closely. It’s an interesting subject to me. My question is this: Why is Google and YouTube doing so many discounts on the NFL Sunday Ticket? Are they having trouble selling it? Did DIRECTV need to cut the price to get people to subscribe? — Eric, New Haven, Connecticut.

Eric, that’s a very good question. Google in April kicked off a $100 discount on the NFL Sunday Ticket for both YouTube TV and YouTube Primetime Channels. The deal brought the base price to $249 and $349 respectively for the two services.

The reduced rate was scheduled to end after Tuesday, June 6. (It actually ended around 10 a.m. ET on June 7.) But as soon as the promotion was over, Google didn’t return the base price to $349 and $449 for YouTube TV and YouTube Primetime Channels. Instead, the company immediately instituted another discount, this time for $50 off instead of $100. The new deal is good until September 19.

The rapid succession of promotional prices triggered some speculation that Google is having difficulty selling the Sunday Ticket and is fearful that the regular base price will make matters worse. The $349 base price for the Ticket on YouTube TV is $56 more than what DIRECTV charged while the $449 base price on YouTube TV Primetime Channels is $156 more.

In recent years, DIRECTV did not offer a special pre-season price for the Ticket to generate more sales. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that Google is piling on the discounts because it needs to. There are two sharp differences between the YouTube offers and the DIRECTV approach.

1. DIRECTV kept the same price for the Ticket for five years (2018-2022). The company did this because it viewed the package of out-of-market Sunday afternoon games as a retention tool rather than a revenue generator. DIRECTV, which has lost more than 12 million subscribers in the last eight years, hoped the Ticket would keep more customers from fleeing so it kept the price reasonable. It didn’t need to offer discounts; the price was already considered a relative bargain.

The satcaster also provided the Ticket for free to new customers, and some existing ones as a perk, another reason why discounts weren’t necessary.

2. Google is offering the Ticket for the first time. The company needs to attract people who may be leery at first of subscribing to an expensive package via streaming which can be susceptible to technical issues. The discounts are a way to make more fans feel comfortable with that choice.

It remains to be seen if Google fulfills its subscriber expectations for the Ticket. But it says here that you shouldn’t read too much into the fact that the company is offering discounts.

Eric, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!

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— Phillip Swann