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Report: YouTube TV Emerging as Legitimate Candidate to Steal NFL Sunday Ticket from Apple

Matt Tamanini

Waiting to see which media company lands the NFL’s out-of-market package after this season has become nearly as entertaining as the games themselves. The popular NFL Sunday Ticket package has been a mainstay on DIRECTV practically since its creation, but it will move to a new, yet-to-be-determined home next season. Earlier this fall, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said that he expected Sunday Ticket to be on a streaming service in 2023 with most onlookers assuming that it would be Apple TV.

However, despite Goodell initially saying that he believed a deal would be done this fall, the league has reportedly hit some stumbling blocks with Apple. Recent reports indicate that when Apple got into the negotiating process, it did not realize all of the complex, contractual obligations that the NFL has with other broadcasters, limiting what can be done outside of Sunday Ticket’s traditional parameters.

Now, according to the New York Times, that has opened the door for Google to increase its pursuit of the property. The company had initially thrown its proverbial helmet into the ring in July, but with Apple failing to finalize the deal this fall, Google is intensifying its bidding.

“But in the absence of a deal,” according to the NYT, “Google has stepped up its pursuit, aiming to win the package for YouTube TV, the company’s streaming-cable service, four of these people said.”

This development would be a major step up in prominence for live TV streaming service YouTube TV. Though YouTube has done deals with Major League Baseball in the past and has a growing subscription business, adding the package would be a new challenge and opportunity for the service.

However, it would be a step that fans would seemingly be in favor of. In The Streamable's NFL Sunday Ticket Fan Survey, nearly two-thirds of NFL fans said they are most likely to subscribe to Sunday Ticket if it lands on one of two platforms: YouTube and Prime Video. Of those two, YouTube took the plurality of respondents at 35% of fans to Amazon’s 29%.

Despite being long considered the frontrunner to win the package, Apple TV+ was the last place that fans wanted Sunday Ticket to be. Apple signed a 10-year deal with Major League Soccer over the summer to broadcast every game of the season, and according to reports, Apple wanted a deal for Sunday Ticket that had similar amounts of control and flexibility. If they had been able to get that, undoubtedly, fans would have flocked to the service for a new version of Sunday Ticket.

However, due to the obligations that the NFL has to its broadcast partners CBS and FOX — which air the games that make up the Sunday Ticket package — there is only so much the new rights holder is able to do with its piece of the pie.

Without the extra opportunities, it appears that Apple is balking at the $2.5 billion price tag that the NFL is reportedly asking for. Also complicating negotiations, according to the New York Times, is the fact that the league is looking to bundle the rights with a share of NFL Media, the production arm behind NFL Network, NFL Redzone, and NFL.com. Also, with economic conditions worsening in the country, it would be understandable for any potential bidder to be concerned that such a pricey investment might never pay off.

However, when other interested companies like Amazon and Disney are also in the mix, there is little doubt that the NFL will find a new, deep-pocketed partner for NFL Sunday Ticket sooner rather than later.

YouTube TV

YouTube TV is a live TV streaming service with more than 60 channels for $64.99/month. This plan includes local channels, 32 of the top 35 cable channels, and regional sports networks (RSNs) in select markets.

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 $19.99 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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