NFL announces deal with Google’s YouTube for Sunday Ticket package – The Athletic

The NFL announced a deal Thursday to swing its highly coveted Sunday Ticket out of market games package to Google’s YouTube. Here’s what you need to know:

The deal marks yet another major inflection point in media, with a major sports property moving from a traditional carrier to streaming. Ironically, DirecTV in the early 1990s was viewed as a pioneer with its satellite service. Now it is losing out to the hot medium in sports.

Google’s YouTube and YouTube TV can use Sunday Ticket to goose their subscription business.

Amazon sublicenses Thursday Night Football to DirecTV to bars and restaurants, which generally would struggle to stream the games. So it is possible DirecTV could keep a cut of Sunday Ticket through this avenue. In the release announcing the deal, the NFL said, “The NFL and YouTube will work together to determine additional ways to support distribution of NFL Sunday Ticket in commercial establishments such as bars and restaurants.” Notably the release says the deal is to distribute to consumers, specifically omitting commercial. A source close to the deal said a separate bidding process to distribute to commercial establishment is ongoing.

Apple had long been the front-runner and coveted candidate for the NFL for some time, but could not agree on contract language and backed out of the talks recently.

What they’re saying

“We’re excited to bring NFL Sunday Ticket to YouTube TV and YouTube Primetime channels and usher in a new era of how fans across the United States watch and follow the NFL,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said. “For a number of years we have been focused on increased digital distribution of our games and this partnership is yet another example of us looking towards the future and building the next generation of NFL fans.”

“YouTube has long been a home for football fans, whether they’re streaming live games, keeping up with their home team, or watching the best plays in highlights,” said Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube. “Through this expanded partnership with the NFL, viewers will now also be able to experience the game they love in compelling and innovative ways through YouTube TV or YouTube Primetime channels. We’re excited to continue our work with the NFL to make YouTube a great place for sports lovers everywhere.”

Details remain

A lot of the details need to be filled in: How much will YouTube charge for Sunday Ticket, would it sell packages for just one team, individual games?

Pricing will be fascinating because it is no secret that DirecTV from a financial perspective lost heavily on the service, by some counts having two million subscribers, many of whom were heavily discounted. DirecTV charged a base price of $300 to $400 a season, not nearly enough to account for its average $1.5 billion annual payment to the NFL. DirecTV saw the package as a loss leader because it got customers in the door, and so that is likely how YouTube will view Sunday Ticket.

Clearly this move will meet the NFL’s objective of making Sunday Ticket more accessible; signing up for YouTube Primetime and then Sunday Ticket would be a lot easier than getting a satellite (DirecTV offered a streaming option in those areas where satellite dishes were not possible).

(Photo: Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

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