Report: Apple Still Seen as NFL Sunday Ticket Favorite, Decision Likely Coming Near End of Year
The NFL season is underway, with record-breaking audiences tuning in to the games, including on the new Prime Video Thursday night broadcast. Many NFL observers had expected a decision to be made on the future of NFL Sunday Ticket this fall, with longtime rights holder DIRECTV’s contract set to expire at the end of this season. Meanwhile, DIRECTV’s streaming version of Sunday Ticket has been plagued by technical difficulties in the opening weeks of the season.
This week, two of the most well-connected sports media reporters in the industry provided an update on the future of the NFL’s out-of-market package on their podcast. On Wednesday’s episode of “The Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast,” the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand and Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand discussed media-related topics of the new NFL season, including the Sunday Ticket bidding.
The hosts agreed that the huge start for the Prime Video NFL package is a good sign for future sports rights while quieting doubts about whether big audiences will embrace streaming. Despite the positives, neither thought that an official announcement for the Sunday Ticket package’s new home was imminent.
“Sunday Ticket, I’m told not to expect anything until the end of the year, if not a little bit sooner than that,” Ourand said.
Despite what many see as a delay from the originally projected timeline, Ourand did indicate that the long-time assumption that Apple would be the broadcaster to land the out-of-market package was still the most likely outcome.
“Apple is the only one that’s had significant discussion so far with the NFL,” he said. “If Apple doesn’t get it, then maybe it’s NFL+? I don’t know.”
Earlier this month, Apple did announce one major deal with the NFL. Last week, Apple Music reached a five-year deal to sponsor the Super Bowl Halftime Show, starting at the end of the current season. Apple Music’s first show will be headlined by Rihanna.
Ourand added that the halftime show deal was negotiated by Apple’s senior vice president of Services, Eddy Cue and the NFL’s Chief Media and Business Officer, Brian Rolapp and that if a Sunday Ticket deal were to take place, the same two executives would be negotiating it.
He added, citing recent reporting by the New York Times’ Tripp Mickle, that the NFL was hoping to get Google and Amazon to bid on Sunday Ticket, in order to drive up the eventual price.
“The implications and the suggestions coming from that story are that a deal could be had, or should be had, by the end of the year, but they’re not nearly to the point where they’re crossing T’s or dotting I’s, and there’s still a lot of negotiations left to go,” Ourand said.
Marchand added that he had heard Halloween as the possible date for a deal.
On the podcast, the pair of reporters also discussed the controversy over whether Apple should have relinquished its exclusive rights to the baseball game last week in which Aaron Judge was chasing the American League home run record.
NFL Sunday Ticket is a subscription video streaming service that allows football fans to watch every live out-of-market NFL game on Sunday afternoons. It is included free for new DirecTV subscribers (allowing streaming through the NFL Sunday Ticket App), or it can be purchased as a standalone streaming product if you live in a dorm or apartment without access to the satellite version of NFL Sunday Ticket.
Unlike NFL RedZone, which bounces from game to game, Sunday Ticket is superior for fans who want to see every play of their favorite teams, even if they don’t live where the games are locally televised.
Sunday Ticket offers three plans: the Student Plan for US$ 99.96 / an, the To Go Plan for US$ 293.96 / an, and the Max Plan for US$ 395.99 / an.