NFL Exploring Exit from Sunday Ticket Pact with DirecTV

DirecTV

The NFL is exploring the possibility of exercising an exit clause in their pact with DirecTV, a move that would revoke the satellite provider’s exclusive rights to broadcast Sunday Ticket (i.e. all out of market games) at the completion of the 2019 season. The current contract (signed in ’14) calls for DirecTV to pay the league $1.5 million/year through ’22. If the league opts out of the current agreement, many believe it could package satellite rights with global streaming rights and continue to grow the revenue pie. Sunday Ticket has never had another home, DirecTV has held the NFL’s satellite rights since 1994.

Howie Long-Short: Should the NFL opt out of the existing agreement, it’s feasible a technology player like Google or Amazon could win the rights; Google previously bid on the rights to NFL Sunday Ticket. Considering neither company has satellite capabilities, if one of the tech giants were to acquire exclusive rights, it’s more than likely they would carve out the satellite broadcast rights and re-sell them.

NFL Sunday Ticket has always been exclusive to DirecTV because if it were to be more widely available, it would diminish the value of the games for the league’s cable and over-the-air television partners; of course, the NFL generates far more revenue from the likes of ESPN, CBS, FOX and NBC than they do from AT&T. Exclusivity hasn’t hurt DirecTV though, it’s helped turn the company into the largest pay-TV provider in the country (following AT&T acquisition, which was contingent upon the renewal of the NFL deal in ‘14).

DirecTV is a subsidiary of AT&T (T). As noted in yesterday’s piece on HBO, cord cutting and the shift to internet video had AT&T’s Entertainment division (see: DirecTV) reporting a -8% YoY revenue decline (to $11.7 billion) in Q2 ‘18.

Fan Marino: NFL television ratings were on an uptick again (at least compared to ’17) in Week 4, with 3 of the 4 Sunday time slots (CBS 1p, CBS 4p, NBC 8p) posting double-digit YoY increases. The time slot that did not experience a YoY rise in viewership (FOX 4p), still reported the best single-header rating of the season (11.7). Sunday’s ratings come on the heels of Thursday night’s highly competitive game between St. Louis and Minnesota, a contest that posted an 8% YoY increase (10.7 on FOX and a 19 on NFL Network).

Wait, it’s 2018 and DirecTV satellite subscribers still can’t stream games shown on NFL Sunday Ticket? Under the terms of the existing deal, only college students and those able to prove the inability to place a dish on their home have access to NFLSundayTicket.TV. The NFL’s take it or leave it offering is the polar opposite of the NBA’s new fan friendly NBA League Pass.

If you’re considering buying NFL Sunday Ticket, but unable to afford the $293.94 subscription price (if you want Red Zone it’s $100 more) AND live in the Los Angeles, Phoenix, Boston, Philadelphia, San Antonio, Hartford or Louisville areas, consider DIRECTV Now (streaming service) as an alternative to the satellite service. For just $55/mo. you can now (i.e. it’s new, not a pun) get access to the league’s entire out-of-market schedule. If the package expands, one must think it’ll have as positive of an impact on DirecTV Now subscriptions as it did for the satellite provider in the 90s.

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Author: John Wall Street

At the intersection of sports & finance.

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