By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman
TV Answer Man, I am happy that YouTube finally listened to us and allowed people to pay monthly for the Sunday Ticket. And finally with the student discounts! So my question to you is now that they are listening to us, will they finally give us single game and single team plans? — Nathan, Pocomoke, Maryland.
Nathan, YouTube announced yesterday that it will now allow new subscribers to the NFL Sunday Ticket to pay in four monthly installments rather than having to pay the entire fee up front. This could encourage more fans to subscribe, particularly those who live paycheck to paycheck. Even at the current starter discount price of $299 on YouTube TV, the Ticket can be too expensive for many cost-conscious consumers.
The streamer also said it would soon offer a Ticket student plan, presumably with a significant discount. Since DIRECTV provided student discounts on the Ticket for years, many fans have been calling for this since YouTube began selling the package of out-of-market Sunday afternoon games last April. The two changes, student discounts and monthly payments, come after YouTube last May removed a two-stream maximum for watching the Ticket. Subscribers will now be able to watch unlimited Ticket streams at home and up to two streams away from home.
Google, which owns the two YouTube services, could indeed be listening to the fans and making these changes because subscriptions have failed to meet expectations thus far. But it also could be that the company is simply being smart and giving people what they want so long as it doesn’t hurt sales. And that brings us to your question, Nathan. Will YouTube now fulfill another popular request from fans: single-team plans and/or single-game orders?
I don’t see Google implementing a single-team plan. The company 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 $299 to $439 (current discounted rates) for the entire package would undoubtedly get the sub-$200 single team option, which could mean less revenue overall for Google. With a little more than three weeks left before the season, the company doesn’t want to discourage full rate subscriptions.
Likewise, I do not expect Google to announce single-game orders before the season, either. Again, if fans know they could watch an occasional game during the season without buying the whole sub, they might sit on the sidelines until then. The final three plus weeks leading up to the regular season (first Sunday of games is September 10) are crucial to Google. However, I could see Google offering single-game orders after the season starts. DIRECTV provided single games a few years ago so there’s precedent there. Google likely is privy to the details of DIRECTV’s single-game business so it might conclude it’s worth a try in 2023.
Nathan, hope that makes sense. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann