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Disney CEO Says Company is ‘In Discussions’ to Add NFL Sunday Ticket on ESPN+

Jeff Kotuby

In what could be a merger on the levels of Hulk Hogan and “Macho Man” Randy Savage combining forces to become The Mega Powers, NFL Sunday Ticket and ESPN+ could also team up bringing the NFL’s out-of-market broadcasting service to the Worldwide Leader in Sports’ streaming platform.

In an interview with CNBC, CEO Bob Chapek said the company is “in discussion” with the NFL in advance of the league’s Sunday Ticket rights deal ending with DirecTV in 2022. DirecTV has exclusive rights for the remainder of this year as well as next year. “We are in discussions and negotiations with the NFL for those rights,” Chapek said. “We think they would make a particularly good addendum, if you will, for our ESPN+ service given the nature of what they are… But we’re very bullish on sports.” According to Total Pro Sports, ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro echoed similar sentiments to Chapek, saying he wanted to discuss the idea of Sunday Ticket coming to ESPN+, “when those talks start up.”

ESPN has been rumored to be circling to Sunday Ticket since 2019, when Chapek first made comments that he was interested in bringing the NFL's out-of-market broadcasting service to the company in some way. The Sunday Ticket chatter has swirled since then, with several different streaming platforms emerging as potential homes.

The latest rumor pegged Amazon Prime Video as the potential home for Sunday Ticket based on NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s words that it, “may be more attractive on a digital platform” when compared to a linear provider. There were also reports that Apple TV+ could be a potential landing spot based on its hiring of James DeLorenzo to run the sports division for ‌Apple TV+‌. in June 2020. DeLorenzo negotiated Amazon’s deal with the NFL and would no doubt love to bring football to his new company.

Then there’s DirecTV, the incumbent who most industry experts aren’t expecting to retain the rights to Sunday Ticket. While they may not retain exclusive rights, there's a chance they still maintain some part of the Sunday Ticket experience, especially if AT&T makes a play to bolster its already sports-friendly DIRECTV STREAM service.

NFL Sunday Ticket

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 / year, the To Go Plan for US$293.96 / year, and the Max Plan for US$395.99 / year.

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