NFL close to deal with Google’s YouTube for Sunday ticket package: source

The NFL is close to a deal to send its coveted Sunday Ticket out-of-market game package to Google’s YouTube, a source close to the NFL has confirmed the athlete. The Wall Street Journal was the first to report the news. Here’s what you need to know:

  • The deal would end DirecTV’s nearly 30-year run with the package and underscores the migration from sports to streaming.
  • The NFL was seeking well over $2.0 billion a year.
  • Apple had been the frontrunner for some time, but pulled out of negotiations weeks ago.

backstory

The deal, which is yet to be voted on by owners, ends DirecTV’s long tenure, which launched the package in 1994 and gave fans who lived outside of their favorite team’s market the ability to watch the games. The NFL and Google declined to comment.

The deal would mark another major turning point in the media as a major sports property moves from a traditional provider to streaming. Ironically, DirecTV was considered a pioneer with its satellite service in the early 1990s. Now it’s losing to the hot medium in sports.

Google’s YouTube and YouTube TV can boost their subscription business with Sunday Ticket. How much Google, a division of Alphabet, pays could not be determined. DirecTV was paying an average of $1.5 billion annually, and the NFL wanted at least $1.0 billion more.

But whether the league got that much is unclear. Sunday ticket value has fallen for many with so many national windows offering games from Thursday Night Football – now on Amazon Prime – to Christmas Day games and a third game on Thanksgiving Day.

Also of note is whether the deal includes a spin-off for bars and restaurants, which are sold separately. Amazon sublicenses Thursday Night Football to DirecTV to bars and restaurants, which generally have trouble streaming the games. It is therefore possible that DirecTV will retain part of the Sunday Ticket in this way.

Apple has long been the frontrunner and a desirable candidate for the NFL, but failed to agree on a contract language and recently withdrew from talks.

details remain

Lots of details to fill in: How much will YouTube charge for the Sunday ticket, would it sell packages for just one team, single games? Do you need a subscription to YouTube TV or YouTube Premium, the $11.99 per month ad-free platform for the video site?

The pricing will be intriguing as it’s no secret that DirecTV has lost heavily on the service financially, with some counts topping two million subscribers, many of which have been heavily reduced. DirecTV calculated a base price of $300 to $400 per season, not nearly enough to account for the $1.5 billion average annual payment to the NFL. DirecTV viewed the package as a loss-maker because it brought customers in the door, and that’s likely how YouTube will see Sunday Ticket.

This move will clearly be in line with the NFL’s goal of making Sunday Ticket more accessible; Signing up for YouTube Premium and then Sunday Ticket would be much easier than buying satellite (DirecTV offered a streaming option in the areas where satellite dishes weren’t possible).

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(Photo: Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

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