The ability to watch every NFL game on Sunday’s is something that’s important to many people. Depending on who you root for, you might not get to see your team in your local market so Sunday Ticket is the only way to legally watch your team every week.
For the past 25 years, DirecTV has had the rights to Sunday Ticket and throughout all this time, it’s been a major motivator in having people signup for the satellite service.
Now, with a merger with AT&T, cord cutting, and cable/satellite companies putting more of an importance on selling internet service than TV, Sunday Ticket isn’t as important as it once was. AT&T is asking themselves now if they should keep the out-of-market package or let others have the service with them.
In an exclusive with the Wall Street Journal, AT&T COO/Warner Media CEO John Stankey noted that with cord cutting being more and more common, Sunday Ticket isn’t as profitable.
One way to alleviate some of the cost would be for AT&T to give up their exclusivity to Sunday Ticket. If other providers have the rights to sell Sunday Ticket, everyone (especially AT&T/DirecTV) is going to pay less. Discussing a non-exclusive package, Stankey said, “We’d always look at it. It all gets down to what the price of something is.”
DirecTV’s position with the NFL about Sunday Ticket has consistently been in the news. Last year, the NFL had a chance to opt out of the deal but ultimately decided to stay put.
A non-exclusive option is something that has been floated off and on for the past six months. In March, Roger Goodell expressed that there was a possibility for DirecTV to lose exclusivity but a month later, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson told investors that they were “heavily invested in the NFL” and wanted to keep their exclusivity.
Other companies have shown interest in acquiring out-of-market rights. Disney had reportedly inquired about obtaining the rights after DirecTV’s was up while DAZN chairman John Skipper openly admitted they were interested in Sunday Ticket and had discussions with the NFL.
AT&T’s current deal is through 2022 and there’s nothing to indicate right now that things will change before then. After 2022, it might be an interesting battle to obtain the rights. Whether it’s by an exclusive agreement or not, many options are on the table. And while AT&T doesn’t feel like they’re getting as much bang for their buck for their $1.5 billion/year investment in Sunday Ticket, the more interested parties mean a higher asking price and a bigger smile for those at the National Football League.