Subscribers to both AT&T U-verse (cable) and DirecTV Now (streaming) have lost access to NFL Network, and it doesn’t sound like that access will be coming back any time soon. AT&T’s website has a statement saying they “could not reach an agreement with the NFL“:
To our U-verse TV and DIRECTV NOW customers
Our rights to provide the NFL Network in your TV lineup have expired. We’re sorry for any inconvenience.
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.
*NFL Network included in CHOICE™ package and above. RED ZONE CHANNEL included with subscription to NFL SUNDAY TICKET MAX.
This is the NFL offseason, so there aren’t any live games for quite a while, but there is still going to be some notable content on the network this month, including the 2019-20 schedule release Thursday and the network’s coverage of the April 25-27 draft. Those who have U-verse and DirecTV Now now won’t be able to see that barring a sudden change, and plenty of people aren’t happy about that:
So just like that, AT&T drops the NFL Network. Gone. Over. Done. Nice going, guys.
— Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) April 16, 2019
— Gail Sideman (@gpublicity1) April 16, 2019
@ATT WTF?!?! You just canceled the NFL NETWORK in my area??? WITHOUT NOTICE??? BRING IT BACK!!! IMMEDIATELY!!! ???
— AnnaSF❤️Ldn (@AnnaSFnLDN) April 15, 2019
— Kim S (@footballchic904) April 16, 2019
@Uverse tf!?!?! No more nfl network??? Because of that im switching this weekend for sure
— Spike Madrid (@Kensenpaiii) April 16, 2019
Bye bye @ATT if I can’t get the NFL Network from your platform, I’m moving to one that has it.
— Lacey (@DigitalPagan) April 16, 2019
— Mr Jolivette (@tony_jay74) April 16, 2019
While this doesn’t specifically impact the AT&T-owned DirecTV at this point, it’s at the very least an interesting point to note in light of the ongoing conversations around Sunday Ticket. The NFL is committed to having Sunday Ticket appear exclusively on DirecTV for the 2019-20 NFL season, but after that, they have the ability to opt out, and they seem to be still pondering that (or at least splitting the package between DirecTV and a streaming suitor). Consider NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s comments in March:
“We’re having great discussions with DirecTV and AT&T. We’ve had a 25-year partnership and we want to continue that partnership, but we also are looking to see how we can change the delivery.”
Again, dropping NFL Network from U-verse and DirecTV Now doesn’t necessarily mean anything for DirecTV and for the Sunday Ticket deal. U-verse and DirecTV have handled some carriage negotiations separately despite their shared ownership, and some channels are available on one service and not the other. And there’s been talk that AT&T is trying to convert many U-verse subscribers over to DirecTV anyway. But it’s interesting to see NFLN go dark on U-verse and DirecTV Now, considering that the network has generally had pretty solid carriage and considering that they only signed a DirecTV Now deal last summer. And it maybe says that the overall relationship between the NFL and AT&T isn’t particularly rosy at the moment.