The future of NFL Sunday Ticket and streaming has been a hot button issue in cord cutting circles. Coming off of the NFL’s Owners Meeting, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke to Sports Business Journal about the league’s plans regarding a future media operations sale:
“We have meetings later this week on this, it’s been a regular pattern of meetings,” Goodell said. “We’ve had a tremendous amount of interest from some terrific media partners, technology partners that are interested in our content, interested in our platforms, interested in everything from Sunday Ticket to NFL Network to RedZone to a lot of media assets we still have available, and we’re looking to deploy in a way that looks to the future in the next generation of media.”
Back in November, it was reported that Amazon had taken the lead with a bid for a 49% stake in the NFL’s media properties. Goodell didn’t confirm or deny if Amazon was the favorite in the SBJ report, however, he did mention that a deal could be “months away.”
Goodell clarified if the rights to NFL Sunday Ticket would be included in the future NFL Media sale:
“When asked if the Sunday Ticket rights were necessarily bundled with the NFL Media asset sale, Goodell said: ‘No, I would say we retain the rights to engage on any one of those pieces, whatever I would call media assets. They don’t have to go together, they might, they might not.’”
In the past, Goddell has referred to Sunday Ticket as “a streaming product,” and if a streaming provider can bundle the service with the other NFL media properties then it could create an attractive offer for subscribers. Goddell did note that if Sunday Ticket is part of the media sale then it would “influence the timing a little bit more.”
DIRECTV is the current home of Sunday Ticket but when their deal ends in 2023, it is likely they’ll have the satellite rights, but there could be a bidding war among digital properties to carry it on a streaming platform. It has been reported that the streaming deal would be somewhere between $2 and $2.5 billion.
With the NFL reportedly wanting to strike a deal before the 2022 season, Apple was a favorite to land the package back in September. At that time it was reported that Apple may allow fans to buy access to just one team’s out-of-market games or single games during the season. This would be something new for the league and Goodell did mention in the SBJ report that the league has been discussing “creative ideas” during sale negotiations.
Disney and the NFL have had a long partnership and the conglomerate could be a dark horse in the bid for a stake in NFL’s media operations. It was reported that Disney was interested in adding Sunday Ticket to ESPN+ and it wouldn’t be a reach for them to try to add RedZone and NFL Network to the mix.
It remains to be seen if the NFL will include Sunday Ticket in its media operations sale but whichever platform acquires the service will surely score a touchdown in the sports streaming wars.