By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman
More than 30 years of experience covering TV technology.
TV Answer Man, do you think DIRECTV wishes it had the NFL Sunday Ticket back? They must be losing a bunch of subscribers, people who have left to get YouTube TV, right? — Steve, Fairfax, Virginia.
Steve, Google’s YouTube TV and YouTube Primetime Channels are carrying the NFL Sunday Ticket this year after it was an exclusive on DIRECTV for 28 years. The NFL recently said the two YouTube services have more Sunday Ticket subscribers this year than DIRECTV had last year, although the league does not say whether that includes free subscriptions. (DIRECTV included the Ticket for free in new subscriber plans and also provided it for free to select existing subscribers as a retention tool.)
Does that mean DIRECTV made a mistake in not trying to renew its exclusive for the package of out-of-market Sunday afternoon games?
Why DIRECTV doesn’t miss the NFL Sunday Ticket
Not at all, says DIRECTV chief content officer Rod Thun, according to Sports Business Journal. “Well, we’re a billion dollars richer,” Thun told the publication when asked if his company wishes it still had the Ticket. The DIRECTV executive was referring to the amount of money that the TV provider lost last year on the plan.
Thun revealed to SBJ that some DIRECTV employees lobbied for the satcaster to try to keep the Ticket. He said he told them it was a simple matter of math. “Well, let me ask you a question. ‘Do you like losing a billion dollars a year?’ That was the old deal. The new deal, it’d be a billion and a half,” Thun said, according to SBJ. “It didn’t make sense for our platform because … We’re losing subs because we’re a pure-play video provider and the price of content continues to escalate beyond what people are willing to pay. We were very data-driven about whether or not to pursue those rights. We didn’t even engage frankly in the conversation. The only piece that we engaged upon was getting the commercial rights.”
DIRECTV this year did license the commercial rights to the Ticket via a deal with EverPass Media, which previously obtained the rights from the league.
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— Phillip Swann