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YouTube Acquires NFL Sunday Ticket Rights for $14 Billion

Alphabet Inc. has been granted the right to broadcast the National Football League’s Sunday Ticket games starting from the 2023 season.

December 22, 2022
6 minutes
minute read

Alphabet Inc. has been granted the right to broadcast the National Football League’s Sunday Ticket games starting from the 2023 season. This makes it the latest tech company to snag a part of America’s most-watched sport.

The deal is worth more than $2 billion per year over seven years, according to a person familiar with the negotiations. This is a great opportunity for both companies involved and will help to grow their businesses.

NFL Sunday Ticket will offer viewers access to games not otherwise airing in their local TV markets. The service will be offered as both an add-on and as a standalone a la carte package, the league said Thursday. This will give fans more flexibility in how they watch their favorite teams.

The new service will be available on both YouTube TV and YouTube Primetime Channels. This is a great way to subscribe directly to pay-TV channels like Showtime and Starz. The deal will likely provide YouTube TV with a significant subscriber boost, analysts say.

NFL Sunday Ticket will be available through the end of this season from satellite-TV provider DirecTV. YouTube has not disclosed its pricing plans.

The NFL has retained the commercial rights to show Sunday Ticket games in bars and restaurants, and could sell that to another company, according to a source.

YouTube TV is the largest online pay-TV service, with about 5 million subscribers, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. It offers more than 100 channels.

DirecTV will face a steep challenge in making Sunday Ticket profitable. The company has been losing money on the package for years due to its $1.5 billion annual-rights fee.

The only NFL rights package still up for grabs was Sunday Ticket. The league, which regularly delivers some of the most-watched events on television, signed new long-term distribution deals with its major broadcast partners last year. These deals were worth more than $100 billion over a decade. Some networks, including NBC and CBS, also got the right to air games on Peacock, Paramount+ or other streaming platforms.

This is a huge win for the NFL, said Daniel Cohen, executive vice president of media rights consulting at Octagon. YouTube is a massive platform with a huge audience, and this partnership will give the NFL unprecedented reach and exposure.

According to Cohen, the league got a good price and built another relationship with a deep-pocketed tech company that could bid on future NFL broadcast rights. In addition to selling Thursday night NFL games to Amazon.com Inc., the league reached a deal with Apple Inc. this fall to sponsor its Super Bowl halftime show.

Executives at DirecTV, which has offered Sunday Ticket for nearly three decades, are hoping that whoever wins the rights will cut a side deal with them. The company is losing TV customers at a rapid clip as more people cancel their pay-TV subscriptions, and is looking for ways to stem the bleeding. Under such an agreement, DirecTV could help YouTube move Sunday Ticket subscribers to its service, while the satellite-TV service would benefit by maintaining a relationship with that customer.

Rob Thun, DirecTV's chief content officer, said in an interview this fall that the company will be helpful to its partners to the extent that they are working together. However, if they are not partners, DirecTV doesn't have much incentive to help them acquire new customers.

DirecTV is also interested in reselling Sunday Ticket to rural customers who don’t have strong enough internet to stream the games, Thun said. Additionally, the company is hoping to keep airing games in bars and restaurants. It recently made a similar arrangement with Amazon for Thursday Night Football.

The NFL and YouTube are exploring additional ways to distribute NFL Sunday Ticket in commercial establishments such as bars and restaurants.

Thun stated that it makes a lot of sense for the company to be a partner on the commercial front, as the relationships have taken years to establish and cultivate.

Valentyna Semerenko
Eric Ng
John Liu
Editorial Board
Bryan Curtis
Adan Harris
Managing Editor
Cathy Hills
Associate Editor

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