NFL commissioner Rodger Goodell sees NFL Sunday Ticket as a “streaming product,” according to a report from CNBC. Goodell made the comment at Tuesday’s owners’ meeting while discussing the future of the out-of-market games service and the league’s transition to digital platforms.
“I think that is best for our fans to make it accessible on a digital platform,” he said.
The NFL’s current deal with DirecTV, which is owned by AT&T, expires in 2023. Sunday Ticket is a major revenue stream for the league with DirecTV paying $1 billion per year on the current deal. Rumors suggest that NFL will be asking for at least double when the deal expires. If the league decides to go in a different direction then this will be the first time the satellite provider wasn’t home to the service since its inception in 1994.
As we’ve previously reported, the NFL is hoping to make a deal with Apple while Apple reportedly has an interest in using it as a way to grow Apple TV+. Combined with the popularity of their hardware like iPhone and iPads, Apple already has a way to get live games right into the hands of fans.
However, Apple does face competition from another tech giant. Amazon is rumored to be interested in buying the rights, as well. Amazon Prime Video is already the streaming home to Thursday Night Football and if the company can add Sunday Ticket to its growing portfolio, it would become the go-to place for NFL football.
Disney-owned sports-streaming service ESPN+ could be a dark horse in the race to acquire Sunday Ticket. With ESPN being the home of Monday Night Football, Wildcard games, and having an existing relationship with the league, Sunday Ticket would be a perfect fit for the Worldwide Leader of Sports. There are rumors suggesting that Disney may be looking to spin-off the network, and if it becomes the streaming home to live out-of-market NFL games then it would only increase its value.
Goodell and the NFL want to find a home for Sunday Ticket before the start of the 2022 season. DirecTV hasn’t completely fumbled the ball as of yet, since it does have its own streaming service, DirecTV Stream, so they’re not completely ruled out. After rebranding the service from AT&T TV, DirecTV Stream has been trying to increase its brand awareness via show sponsorships, according to the CNBC report.
Not only is the NFL considering removing Sunday Ticket from satellite to a cord-cutting-friendly alternative, but there could be changes to the service. Like other sports-streaming services, fans may be able to purchase individual team games on the Ticket, according to the CNBC report. The league is rumored to be interested in doubling up on streaming services like their traditional TV packages by allowing a streaming platform to carry each conference.
Time will tell what the NFL decides to do with one of its most valuable properties. Whether DirecTV does keep the rights to Sunday Ticket beyond the 2022 season or if a streaming service intercepts for a touchdown remains to be seen. Until then, cord cutters can find out how to watch the NFL without cable, below.