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NFL Sunday Ticket May Allow Users to Purchase Smaller, Cheaper Packages; What Could Those Look Like?

David Satin

YouTube TV scored a major coup when it was able to swoop in and nab the rights to the NFL’s out-of-market games package NFL Sunday Ticket in December. At the time, the deal featured many unanswered questions, but more details have trickled out from Google and the league in the interim.

A new interview between Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand and the NFL’s Chief Media and Business Officer Brian Rolapp on the “Marchand and Ourand Podcast” is creating even more buzz around the package. Rolapp noted that the league and YouTube TV are toying with several changes to Sunday Ticket that could be ready for its inaugural season this fall.

Rolapp suggested that the biggest of those changes could center on allowing customers to subscribe to smaller packages for the first time ever, which would allow users to pay a lower price for a more focused Sunday Ticket.

“I don’t know if we’ll go team-by-team, but could you get fewer games for a lesser price? I think that’s all up for debate and conversation,” Rolapp said. “[Sunday Ticket has] been distributed one way for so long, I think there’s probably a lot of opportunity between all you can eat and free television to explore there.”

This is the first time that the NFL has signaled any willingness to allow customers to access a cheaper version of Sunday Ticket. The NFL’s contracts with CBS and FOX require Sunday Ticket to be offered at a “premium price,” and that will continue with the product in its new home, though YouTube would have the final say on the pricing for the product.

So, if the league and streamer aren’t going to be dropping the price significantly, that likely means that viewers who pay for the full version of Sunday Ticket will be shelling out something in the neighborhood of $300 to stream all of their out-of-market games, just as they had to when the service was on DIRECTV. But a smaller package featuring fewer games at a lower price would undoubtedly be attractive to certain users. While many legacy Sunday Ticket subscribers flock to the service because it offers them the chance to watch every NFL game possible, others might be interested in order to simply follow their favorite team or players. While both the NFL and Google have said that single-team packages are not in the cards currently, perhaps a different type of skinny bundle would be possible.

But what would such smaller packages look like? The most logical way for the league and YouTube to offer skinnier team bundles would be for the service to offer packages based on conferences, or even divisions. An AFC West Bundle, for instance, could be offered for $50-$100 per season, and still stream enough games for users to make it financially worthwhile for YouTube TV to offer. Perhaps, the league could also allow fans to hand-pick a handful of four, five, or six teams to put into their own à la carte bundles, with varying prices — and discounts — for as many teams as are included.

The smaller number of games per season is one of the biggest reasons the NFL does not currently offer single-team options on Sunday Ticket. Other out-of-market games products like MLB.TV and NBA League Pass offer single-team packages, but those leagues play many more games per season than the NFL. The larger amount of inventory allows siloed-off subscriptions to make sense financially for the platforms.

Offering skinnier packages on Sunday Ticket may help the NFL avoid some legal trouble. A $6 billion class-action lawsuit was recently filed on behalf of Sunday Ticket users against the league alleging unfair business practices. The suit asserts that by limiting the number of games available via traditional broadcast TV, the league is forcing consumers to opt into a service that is only usable on one provider, in violation of American antitrust laws.

The potential for bundles featuring fewer teams was not the only new detail to emerge regarding Sunday Ticket on YouTube TV this week. On Wednesday, it was announced that the service would roll out new interactive features on the product this season, including live polls, the ability to comment, the use of Mosaic Mode to pick multiple games to watch simultaneously, and more.

More details about Sunday Ticket’s first season on YouTube TV are sure to come in the next few months. But there’s no doubt that offering skinnier team bundles at a lower price would bring scores of new users to Sunday Ticket.

YouTube TV

YouTube TV is a live TV streaming service with more than 60 channels for $72.99/month. This plan includes local channels, 32 of the top 35 cable channels, and regional sports networks (RSNs) in select markets. The service includes an unlimited DVR.

With the recent addition of Viacom channels (BET, MTV, Comedy Central, etc.) to the service, they are only without Hallmark and A+E Networks (Lifetime, History, A&E).

They recently added NFL Network and new Sports Plus add-on which include channels like NFL RedZone for $11 a month.

YouTube TV offers select 4K content, including some live sports and on-demand shows, as part of their 4K Plus add-on. The 4K Plus add-on is $9.99 a month and also includes offline downloads and unlimited streams on your home network.

If you want a cheaper service with many of the entertainment channels on YouTube TV, you can subscribe to Philo which includes A+E, Discovery, Viacom, Hallmark, and other channels for just $20 a month after a 7-Day Free Trial.


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