Report: NFL Sunday Ticket likely to be primarily a streaming offer in next cycle

Amazon, ESPN+, NBC’s Peacock and DAZN have all shown interest in out-of-market product.

by Tom Bassam

Report: NFL Sunday Ticket likely to be primarily a streaming offer in next cycle
  • DirecTV not expected to renew its US$1.5bn a year deal
  • Package currently not universally available as streaming product
  • NFL seeing ratings uptick as it seeks to close rights sales process

The National Football League’s (NFL) out-of-market ‘Sunday Ticket’ rights package is set to be a primarily digital offer when the new broadcast partnership is agreed, according to Sports Business Journal (SBJ).

The incumbent broadcaster, AT&T-owned DirectTV, has made it clear it has little intention of renewing its deal when the contract expires at the conclusion of the 2021 NFL season. According to the report, Amazon Prime, ESPN+, NBC’s Peacock and DAZN have shown interest in a package which has underperformed for DirectTV, but SBJ says none of those parties have entered into formal talks.

It also remains to be seen whether any of those companies would be willing to to pay for exclusivity. DirecTV currently pays US$1.5 billion per year for the package. The NFL did have an option to end that deal early last year, but a lack of interested parties willing to match that fee saw the league opt to stay the course with DirecTV.

Sunday Ticket is currently primarily a linear broadcast product, with streaming-only packages limited in availability to 29 US markets. Until this year, only students or those able to prove they could not receive DirecTV’s satellite service were able to get digital Sunday Ticket access.

For the NFL’s other upcoming rights deals, it is expected that an increased fee will be the only major change, while ESPN and NBC reportedly may bid against each other for the top primetime package.

After a slow start to the season, the NFL also has reasons for optimism on the ratings front. The Sunday night game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Las Vegas Raiders on NBC scored its best week 11 viewership since 2017. An average total audience delivery (TAD) of 20.2 million, according to data from Nielsen and Adobe Analytics, is up 17 per cent on last year’s equivalent broadcast.

On Fox, the Sunday afternoon game between the Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts drew an average of 23.91 million viewers to rank as the second most-watched NFL broadcast of the season on any network. Fox’s week 11 doubleheader averaged 18.42 million viewers, up more than eight per cent over last year’s comparable singleheader.