Last year, the bidding for the rights to NFL Sunday Ticket wasn’t nearly as robust as many figured it would be. Google eventually won the rights to Sunday Ticket for YouTube, pulling it away from DirecTV after nearly three decades of exclusivity.
Despite the satellite company not having Sunday Ticket exclusivity since the first Clinton administration, DirecTV doesn’t seem too broken up about it. Chief Content Officer Rob Thun told the Sports Business Journal that the company was “a billion dollars richer” without Sunday Ticket, and also expanded on why bidding on the package didn’t make sense for the company last year.
Before YouTube TV signed a deal to carry “NFL Sunday Ticket” last December, Thun said people would advocate for the package internally. He always gave the same answer.
“Well, let me ask you a question. ‘Do you like losing a billion dollars a year?’ That was the old deal. The new deal, it’d be a billion and a half,” he said. “It didn’t make sense for our platform because … We’re losing subs because we’re a pure-play video provider and the price of content continues to escalate beyond what people are willing to pay. We were very data-driven about whether or not to pursue those rights. We didn’t even engage frankly in the conversation. The only piece that we engaged upon was getting the commercial rights.”
Last summer, DirecTV was notably not involved in the bidding for Sunday Ticket, with Amazon, Apple, and Disney all submitting bids before Google came into play and eventually won the rights. The NFL eventually formed EverPass Media, a joint venture with RedBird Capital, to distribute the commercial rights to Sunday Ticket. DirecTV and EverPass eventually struck a non-exclusive deal for Sunday Ticket’s commercial rights.
For years, there have been stories about how much money DirecTV was losing on Sunday Ticket and how the company had no desire to renew the deal when it ended after the 2022 season. We’ve finally reached the reality of Sunday Ticket not being a DirecTV-exclusive package, and so far, there don’t appear to be any gripes about the decision to let Sunday Ticket go.