For any of those that were hoping that the Sunday Ticket might become available on a local cable provider, forget it. Same goes for fans that wished that individual games could be purchased through cable television companies like Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, Charter and Time Warner. The NFL today reached an agreement with DirecTV that extends their exclusive rights to carry the Sunday Ticket into the next decade.
DirecTV currently has a four-year deal for the Sunday Ticket with the NFL that was scheduled to expire at the end of this season. That contract had an average annual value of $1 billion; the new deal will increase about five percent the first few years and the average annual rights fee will end up being in the $1.3 billion to $1.4 billion range over the next decade.
This deal means that the NFL now has all of their major broadcasting rights contracts wrapped up for several years. The NFL’s agreement with ESPN runs through 2021, while the deals with CBS, FOX and NBC go through 2022. The only contract that ends this decade is the four-year, $1 billion deal with Verizon to stream games on mobile phones through the end of the 2017 season.
So why was this contract the last one to be finalized? AT&T has been in negotiations to purchase DirecTV for $49 billion. That acquisition was obviously dependent on DirecTV having the Sunday Ticket package, as they are not worth as much without that contract. Their are currently about two million people who subscribe to the Sunday Ticket, and almost all of them would depart from DirecTV if the Sunday Ticket was no longer available. There may have also been a minor issue with mobile phone service providers AT&T and Verizon working together and playing nice, but that should not have been too much of a sticking point since they each have two quite different exclusive rights deals.
As for pay-per-view for single games rather than purchasing the season-long Sunday Ticket, forget it. That’s not going to happen – until 2023 at the earliest.
And getting the final piece of the broadcasting rights finalized with about a forty percent increase to stabilize that side of their business model, all while catching a ton of crap for how they are handling off-field issues has to make the NFL feel good – if not bullet-proof.
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