AT&T dropped NFL Network as the telco and the league continue to try to hammer out an agreement on the NFL Sunday Ticket, the out-of-market games package that has been carried on DirecTV exclusively for 25 years. That’s as the NFL has said it’s looking to end DirecTV’s exclusive carriage of Sunday Ticket to extend it to streaming platforms.
In a statement posted online to customers, AT&T said, “The NFL Network and Red Zone Channel remain available to all fans on DirecTV. However, as we continue to manage content costs, we could not reach an agreement with the NFL to continue to carry their channels on U-verse TV and DirecTV Now.”
An AT&T rep noted that coverage of next week’s NFL draft (April 25-27) also will be available on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN Deportes, as well as on nfl.com and the NFL app.
On DirecTV satellite service, NFL Network is included in the Choice package and higher. RedZone is included with a subscription to NFL Sunday Ticket Max, which cost $395.94 for the 2018 season.
AT&T’s move to kick NFL Network off the lineup of the DirecTV Now streaming service and U-verse allegedly caught the NFL off guard — and may be a negotiating tactic as AT&T seeks to retain exclusive distribution rights to NFL Sunday Ticket. “Unfortunately, as it pertains to AT&T, we never heard a word from them until NFL Network and NFL RedZone were pulled from the AT&T U-Verse and DTV Now services,” NFL Network said in a statement Thursday. According to a source familiar with the situation, AT&T had informed the NFL last Friday that it might be forced to remove NFL Network from U-verse and DirecTV Now (given that the existing carriage deals for the network on those services expired April 15).
Last month, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a Bloomberg interview that the league wanted to expand the distribution of NFL Sunday Ticket to online platforms in addition to DirecTV. “We’re looking to make sure that we continue to deliver this package, which is a premium package of great content,” he said. “We want it delivered on several different platforms.”
The price for DirecTV subscribers for the regular NFL Sunday Ticket package for the 2018 season was $293.94. AT&T also has offered a streaming-only version of NFL Sunday Ticket, but only to non-DirecTV customers who are college students or live somewhere in the U.S. where DirecTV satellite service is not available (like apartments and other multidwelling-unit buildings).