In the wake of Disney signing new deals with La Liga and Major League Baseball, the Worldwide Leader is looking at even more properties to stock its growing ESPN+ streaming service. We told you back in March that ESPN had “exploratory conversations” over obtaining the rights to NFL Sunday Ticket. In the latest quarterly Disney earnings call, company CEO Bob Chapek told investors that the company was still in conversations with the NFL about the out-of-market package that is currently exclusive to DirecTV.
The satellite provider has had the rights to Sunday Ticket for 25 years and its contract with the NFL expires after the 2022 season. There has been speculation that DirecTV will lose the package when negotiations for the contract commence, and Disney has been reportedly kicking the tires on purchasing Sunday Ticket as far back as 2019.
Chapek says while Disney would like to add the pay per view package to its portfolio, the company would make the deal only if it could make a profit and if it makes total financial sense. Even if DirecTV renewed its deal for Sunday Ticket, ESPN could purchase the streaming rights and increase distribution to fans.
ESPN continues to look for deals that will not only contain a linear package, but also streaming. Chapek said while Disney hopes to buffer all sides of ESPN, it is “still very supportive of our linear business, with every deal we make, we are considering both the linear and DTC components.”
Chapek remains bullish on ESPN+ stating that its subscriber base grew by 75% in the last year to 13.8 million. And if ESPN+ gets the rights to Sunday Ticket, expect those numbers to increase. Disney continues its conversations with the NFL about the out-of-market package and the company hopes that they lead to a contract once all is said and done.