Google Sunday Ticket

One of the big discussions around sports TV has long been the idea of a user-controlled multiscreen or multibox mode showing different games on the same screen. This is a step beyond alternate broadcasts (which tend to split the screen between commentators and game action). And it’s been tried by a few cable/satellite/streaming services and apps, including Fox Sports Go/MLB At Bat/and ESPN on Apple TV devices, various AT&T/DirecTV multiscreen looks for different sports, and several other things. But this has been far from a consistent or frequent implementation to date.

As for virtual multichannel programming distributor YouTube TV, they’ve been discussing the idea of letting viewers pick feeds for a multiscreen watch since last summer. But that “Mosaic Mode” concept hasn’t yet come to fruition. However, in an interview with Nilay Patel of The Verge last week, YouTube chief product officer Neal Mohan said this mode will be ready to go by the time they’re offering NFL Sunday Ticket next fall.

That’s a big deal. Of course, multiple boxes on this NFL out-of-market package have long been seen on the dueling RedZones, and one RedZone channel will still exist under this new deal (albeit with many remaining questions about that). But a user-controlled multibox is a step further in personal customization, and that will exist not just for Sunday Ticket. Here are some key comments from what Mohan told Patel:

The first is that living room screens are our largest and fastest-growing screens — whether it’s the YouTube main app, whether it’s YouTube TV. We’ve invested a lot there through second-screen type experiences, interactivity, hiding spoilers, et cetera. We’re working on multiscreen as well for sports fans.

…Multiscreen is something that we have been working on for YouTube TV. So you should expect that as part of the experience.

Patel also notes there that many of the “YouTube TV” features will also apply to the standalone Sunday Ticket package purchased through YouTube Prime Channels (pricing details are not yet available for either that or the Sunday Ticket addition to YouTube TV):

A lot of this conversation is about YouTube TV, but I’m very excited about being able to offer [Sunday Ticket] service in a la carte fashion on [YouTube] Primetime Channels. We’re going to invest in bringing all of those features that sports lovers appreciate on YouTube TV to the main YouTube app. If you sign up for Sunday Ticket through Primetime Channels, you’ll be able to benefit from features like key plays and game highlights, hiding spoilers, and those types of features that our sports fans have kind of come to expect and enjoy on the YouTube TV side.

Patel doesn’t specifically namecheck multiscreen there, but it is notable to hear him talking about bringing YouTube TV features to the Primetime Channels version of Sunday Ticket. And it feels like if multiscreen is implemented on the YTTV side, it may well be on this standalone side as well. But the most notable part of this is him giving a definitive “you should expect that” by September 2023 timeline for this multiscreen approach. We’ll see when it’s released and how it’s received, but it’s certainly significant to see a timeline for it.

[The Verge, The Desk]


About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.