By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man – @tvanswerman

TV Answer Man, YouTube TV says on its web site that it’s $500 cheaper to get the Sunday Ticket on YouTube TV than it was on DIRECTV. Is that true? — Carlo, Reno, Nevada.

Carlo, you’re right. On YouTube TV’s NFL Sunday Ticket page, the streamer says:

“NFL Sunday Ticket and YouTube TV is $500/yr less than if you paid for NFL Sunday Ticket and DIRECTV last year as a returning subscriber.”

The streamer bases that calculation on a SmithGeiger Group study that compared the costs of subscribing to the Sunday Ticket on YouTube TV to the cost of getting it via DIRECTV in 2022. As everyone knows by now, Google took over the rights to the Sunday Ticket starting with the 2023 season after it was a DIRECTV exclusive for 28 years.

As is often the case with research studies, the numbers don’t quite reflect reality. While it was more expensive for an existing subscriber not on a promotional plan to get the Ticket on DIRECTV in 2022 compared to YouTube in 2023, it’s was not $500 more expensive, or even close to that amount.

For starters, the SmithGeiger study calculated the DIRECTV cost by taking the existing (non-promotional) subscriber fee for the satcaster’s Choice plan and adding it to the Ticket’s price plus fees, taxes, DVR box rental and service fee and a second cable box for the home.

The problem with that equation is that you didn’t need a Choice plan to subscribe to the Ticket. You could do it with the less expensive Entertainment or Select plans. The Choice plan in 2022 was $129 a month for an existing subscriber compared to Entertainment’s $107 a month. (Again, this does not include customers who were in cheaper promotional plans.)

Why did SmithGeiger use a more expensive plan to calculate the DIRECTV cost? Draw your own conclusions.

Since the 2022 NFL season lasted from September to January, that would be five months of $107 a month which comes to $535 with the Entertainment plan. (The Choice plan would have been $645.)

Now let’s add the $535 to the Ticket’s base cost of $293 and we have $828. But we have to add fees, taxes, DVR box rental and service and a second cable box, right?

Wrong. You didn’t need a second box to subscribe to the Ticket so let’s throw that expense out. You did have to pay $7 a month for the receiver rental. And the five months of the Entertainment plan came to around $40 in taxes depending upon your state. The two combined came to another $75 or so and we’ll even throw in another $10 a month ($50 for five months) for the advanced receiver fee for a HD DVR. (By the way, in case you were wondering, the Entertainment plan did not have a regional sports network fee because the plan did not include regional sports networks.)

So now we’re adding $125 to the $828.

The grand total to get the Sunday Ticket on DIRECTV from September 2022 to January 2023: $953.

Now let’s look at getting the Ticket this year from YouTube TV.

You will need an active subscription to YouTube TV from September to January. That’s five months times $72.99 which comes to $364.95. But YouTube TV has taxes, too. So let’s calculate that at around $25. We’re now at $389.95.

The base Ticket plan is now $299.

$389.95 plus $299 comes to $688.95. Subtract $688.95 from $953 and we get $264.05.

That means you could save $264.05 by getting the Sunday Ticket through YouTube TV compared to DIRECTV last year if you had the Entertainment plan as an existing customer not on a promotional plan. That’s still a nice discount, but it’s not $500.

Last note: Many DIRECTV subscribers actually got the Ticket for free in 2022 because they were on two-year promotional plans that included the Ticket and lower plan prices in the first year. If you compared the YouTube TV 2023 price to what those subscribers paid in 2022, it would actually be more than what DIRECTV charged.

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

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— Phillip Swann