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Report: DirecTV to Lose NFL Sunday Ticket to ESPN Plus?

Ben Bowman, Jason Gurwin

Monster NFL news broke this afternoon. According to a report on WFAN, DirecTV is losing NFL Sunday Ticket. When the service launched in 1994, it was the equivalent of an atom bomb in the sports world. For the first time, fans anywhere in the country could watch every game in the NFL, as long as they had a satellite dish.

When DirecTV’s deal expires at the end of 2022 season, WFAN claims the NFL package will move to ESPN+. Presumably, ESPN+ users will be able to add NFL Sunday Ticket for an additional fee. (Details have not been disclosed.)

Take this report with a grain of salt. It is not clear when such a deal might go through. DirecTV’s existing deal still gives them rights to the package for two more seasons.

An AT&T PR representative tells The Streamable, “Only DirecTV’s residential and commercial customers can subscribe to NFL Sunday Ticket to watch out-of-market NFL games through the 2022-2023 season.”

Today, the NFL announced a new 10-year media rights deal, which did not include mention of NFL Sunday Ticket.

Though the report may be disputed, there is evidence that the Sunday Ticket switch could still occur.

On a NFL media call announcing their new rights deal, ESPN President, Jimmy Pitaro said, “We’ve had exploratory conversations with the league. Sunday Ticket is an incredibly valuable product. When the league is ready, we are interested in having that conversation with them.”

Former Disney CEO Bob Iger expressed interest in adding NFL Sunday Ticket to ESPN+ in the past, though nothing materialized. Iger said, “There has been exploration whether there is an opportunity there. We are very bullish on the NFL.”

ESPN+ has already built a PPV business around UFC — and recently became the home of NHL.TV, the league’s out-of-market package, so it wouldn’t be unusual for them to create an add-on for the service.

DirecTV’s parent company, AT&T, seems to have no love for the service. Less than a month ago, AT&T sold off a chunk of the business to a private equity firm. The launch of HBO Max appears to be their primary focus. AT&T acquired DirecTV in 2015 for $48.5 billion ($67 billion with debt). Last month’s sale values DirecTV at $16.25 Billion.

Story developing. More details to come….

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