If the pact goes through, starting with the 2023 NFL season, YouTube TV would become the exclusive home to Sunday Ticket after the package rolls off DirecTV, which has hosted it for nearly three decades. The “advanced talks” for Sunday Ticket between YouTube and the NFL were first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
Google has “discussed” paying the NFL $2.5 billion per year for Sunday Ticket, the New York Times reported. The league also could receive additional payments from Google for performance targets, such as fees based on the number of YouTube TV subscribers gained through the football package. Since 2015, DirecTV has paid about $1.5 billion annually for Sunday Ticket rights.
Reps for the NFL and YouTube declined to comment.
In addition to YouTube, others said to have been in the months-long negotiations for Sunday Ticket rights included Apple, Amazon and ESPN. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell earlier this year had indicated the package would be going to a streamer as the option that was “best for consumers.”
Sunday Ticket’s move from DirecTV to YouTube TV would reflect the broader industry evolution from traditional TV to streaming platforms. DirecTV, which AT&T spun off in August 2021 in a deal with TPG Capital, has suffered ongoing subscriber declines (as has the rest of the pay-TV industry) and the satellite/streaming provider opted to decline to renew the Sunday Ticket deal. DirecTV has an estimated 1.5 million-2 million subscribers for Sunday Ticket. For the 2022 season, DirecTV’s pricing for Sunday Ticket started at $293.94.
For YouTube TV, Sunday Ticket has the potential to pull in a wave of new subscribers. This summer, Google said YouTube TV had more than 5 million customers (including those on free trials), making it the biggest internet TV service in the U.S.
Sunday Ticket first launched in 1994 on DirecTV, and in the U.S. it has been the only way to (legally) watch all of the NFL’s regular-season Sunday daytime matchups.
The NFL’s Sunday Ticket remains the only piece of the league’s media-rights puzzle that has not been locked up into the next decade. Last year, the NFL inked a set of massive deals with Disney, Fox, Paramount Global, NBCUniversal and Amazon that will keep most of its games with traditional media companies through 2033.