NFL Network has returned to DirecTV Now, according to Cord Cutters News. DirecTV Now and U-Verse got rid of NFL Network just a few weeks ago, and AT&T released the following statement at the time:
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.
Cord Cutters News speculates that the return of NFL Network to DirecTV Now “could mean a new deal for NFL Sunday Ticket was reached between AT&T and the NFL,” though it’s very possible that the situations aren’t related. NFL Sunday Ticket is on the AT&T-owned DirecTV, but the NFL has the ability to opt out of the contract after the 2019 season (a $1.5 billion per year extension was signed in 2014 through 2022), and there have been reports that the league is considering exercising that option. Disney (with ESPN and ESPN+), for example, reportedly would have interest in NFL Sunday Ticket if it becomes available.
While it’s not football season and DirecTV Now subscribers didn’t miss any actual games, the NFL schedule release extravaganza and the 2019 NFL Draft took place while NFL Network wasn’t available. Coverage of those events was available on ESPN (as well as ABC for the draft), but many viewers prefer NFL Network’s coverage (especially because it’s basically 24/7).
There’s nothing new on the U-Verse/NFL Network front, but perhaps the DirecTV Now deal can get the ball rolling there.
UPDATE: Well, so much for NFL Network being back on DirecTV Now. A few hours after NFL Network resurfaced, the channel was removed from the streaming service, according to Cord Cutters News. We’ll see if anything changes here, but it appears NFL Network’s reappearance was a mistake.