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NFL Sunday Ticket likely headed to Google’s YouTube

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Google has emerged as the front-runner for the National Football League’s out-of-market package, NFL Sunday Ticket, according to a report.

On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal said the NFL and Google were in advanced talks to bring NFL Sunday Ticket to YouTube, effectively ending a two-decade run of the package on satellite broadcaster DirecTV.

NFL Sunday Ticket allows football fans to tune in to Sunday morning and afternoon games aired on CBS and Fox stations and affiliates beyond their local market. The package typically costs around $300 per season, though DirecTV often promoted the package with a deep discount in order to entice new subscribers to sign up for the service.

Several years ago, the NFL expressed interest in moving NFL Sunday Ticket off DirecTV in favor of a streaming platform, noting the number of television viewers who have increasingly dropped expensive cable and satellite services for cheaper, online-only offerings.

DirecTV, which is co-owned by AT&T and private equity firm TPG Capital, currently pay around $1.5 billion for the rights to NFL Sunday Ticket. That contract ends at the conclusion of the current football season. Playoff games and the Super Bowl championship are typically aired nationally, and are not normally part of NFL Sunday Ticket.

According to reports, the NFL is looking for as much as $3 billion per year for the rights to NFL Sunday Ticket. Apple, Amazon and Google emerged as early contenders for the package; last week, reports indicated Apple had dropped out of consideration for NFL Sunday Ticket amid concerns over the financial feasibility of offering the package through its subscription streaming service, Apple TV Plus.

The Journal said the NFL could announce Google as the winner of the NFL Sunday Ticket package as soon as Wednesday, if team owners approve the deal.

If Google is awarded the rights to NFL Sunday Ticket, the package would almost certainly be offered via YouTube, Google’s video streaming platform. It is not clear how much Google intends to charge for the package. Google also operates YouTube TV, a premium streaming service that offers access to live broadcast and cable channels for $65 a month.

On Tuesday, an industry source familiar with the negotiations said the league is exploring ways to offer NFL Sunday Ticket via satellite to businesses like restaurants and sports bars who may lack the equipment or bandwidth to stream games through an online service. Earlier this year, the NFL said it would continue offering Thursday Night Football games to business customers of DirecTV after the national rights to those telecasts moved to Amazon.

A source told The Dek that DirecTV and its satellite competitor, Dish Network, are being evaluated as possible long-term business partners for NFL Sunday Ticket.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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