Google’s YouTube Grabs NFL Sunday Ticket in Seven-Year Deal

DirecTV's stewardship of out-of-market games package ends after 28 years

NFL Sunday Ticket - YouTube TV
Courtesy of NFL

It’s official: YouTube is getting the hand-off for the NFL’s Sunday Ticket.

Google and the National Football League announced a pact Thursday making YouTube the exclusive home of the Sunday Ticket out-of-market games package, starting with the 2023 season. The deal ends DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket stewardship after 28 years. Aimed a superfans and football bettors, Sunday Ticket provides access to every NFL day game on Sundays broadcast by CBS and Fox during the regular season (subject to local-market blackouts).

Starting next season, under the seven-year deal, NFL Sunday Ticket will be available on as an add-on package on YouTube TV and on a standalone, à-la-carte basis on YouTube’s recently launched Primetime Channels (which doesn’t require a subscription to YouTube TV). YouTube didn’t announce pricing for Sunday Ticket. For the 2022 season, DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket plans started at $293.94.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. YouTube will pay on average $2 billion per year for Sunday Ticket, plus the potential for additional performance-based fees, the Wall Street Journal reported, while the New York Times pegged the deal as worth $2.5 billion annually. Either way, that’s a bump up from the $1.5 billion that DirecTV has reportedly paid per year for Sunday Ticket rights. The satellite TV provider has had somewhere between 1.5 million-2 million subscribers for the package, according to industry estimates.

The NFL and YouTube said they will work together to “determine additional ways to support distribution of NFL Sunday Ticket in commercial establishments such as bars and restaurants.” That could represent an additional $200 million in payments from Google, per the Journal’s report.

“We’re excited to bring NFL Sunday Ticket to YouTube TV and YouTube Primetime Channels and usher in a new era of how fans across the United States watch and follow the NFL,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “For a number of years we have been focused on increased digital distribution of our games and this partnership is yet another example of us looking towards the future and building the next generation of NFL fans.”

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said in a statement, “YouTube has long been a home for football fans, whether they’re streaming live games, keeping up with their home team, or watching the best plays in highlights. Through this expanded partnership with the NFL, viewers will now also be able to experience the game they love in compelling and innovative ways through YouTube TV or YouTube Primetime Channels.”

Armed with Sunday Ticket, YouTube TV stands to reel in a new tranche of customers, although a subscription to the $64.99/month service will not be required to get Sunday Ticket. The internet pay-TV service had more than 5 million customers, including those on free trials, Google said this summer.

Before YouTube TV clinched the Sunday Ticket bid, the NFL also was said to have been in talks with Apple, Amazon and ESPN.

Sunday Ticket was the last bucket of the NFL’s media rights that had not been locked up into the next decade. Last year, the NFL inked massive deals with Disney, Fox, Paramount Global, NBCUniversal and Amazon that will keep most of its games with traditional media companies through 2033, with Amazon’s Prime Video securing exclusive rights to “Thursday Night Football.”

The NFL and Google have been partners since the league first launched its official NFL channel on YouTube in 2015. Meanwhile, YouTube TV debuted in 2017. Ahead of the 2020 NFL season, YouTube TV inked a carriage agreement to add NFL Network to its base channel lineup and offer NFL RedZone as part of YouTube TV’s Sports Plus add-on ($10.99/month).

As part of the new agreement for Sunday Ticket, YouTube and the NFL will “facilitate exclusive access to official content and attendance opportunities” for select YouTube creators at “key NFL tentpole events.”

In addition, YouTube will become the presenting sponsor of Back Together Saturday, the league’s official start to training camp when all 32 NFL clubs hold practices with club-led fan events, and NFL Kickoff Weekend, which runs from the season’s kickoff on Thursday night through the weekend games and Monday night.