Satellite broadcaster DirecTV is negotiating with the National Football League (NFL) and private equity firm RedBird Capital for the commercial broadcast rights to the NFL’s Sunday Ticket package, The Desk has learned.
The discussions were confirmed one day after the NFL and RedBird announced the formation of a new joint venture called EverPass that aims to offer the NFL Sunday Ticket and other live sports through a streaming platform in the future.
EverPass hopes to remove some of the pain points in delivering live sports over the Internet to bars, restaurants, hotels and other commercial establishments. In the past, these businesses have complained that unreliable Internet connections and high latency make it difficult, if not impossible, to stream live sports to their public screens.
As more streaming services clinch live sports rights for their consumer products, sports leagues have started to negotiate separate deals for commercial venues, which often rely on sports programming to bring in customers. Last year, the NFL announced it would offer Thursday night football games to subscribers of DirecTV for Business after Amazon’s Prime Video secured a multi-year deal to offer those same games to streamers. Major League Soccer (MLS), which carries games on Apple TV Plus, announced a similar deal with DirecTV for Business.
The NFL could be on a similar path: On Wednesday, a DirecTV spokesperson confirmed the satellite company is in active discussions with the NFL and RedBird over commercial rights to the NFL Sunday Ticket.
“We are in discussions with RedBird Capital to deliver NFL Sunday Ticket to our [over] 300,000 commercial venues as only satellite can provide a consistent and reliable experience in-venues and across locations that fans have come to expect,” the spokesperson said in an e-mail to The Desk.
NFL Sunday Ticket offers live access to Sunday afternoon games aired on CBS and Fox stations and affiliates beyond a viewer’s home market. For nearly two decades, the package was exclusive to DirecTV, which offered it to both residential and business subscribers.
While EverPass might eventually offer live sports through a comparable streaming service, it seems unlikely the joint venture will get off the ground in time for the start of this year’s pro football season, which is just a few months away. The likelihood that DirecTV will be offered at least short-term rights to NFL Sunday Ticket for the hundreds of thousands of commercial establishments that still have dishes and receivers is pretty high.
If a deal comes together, only DirecTV for Business customers would benefit from it. Ordinary football fans would still need to sign up for the NFL Sunday Ticket through YouTube’s Primetime Channels marketplace or YouTube TV, which will be the exclusive destinations of the out-of-market package starting in September.