NFL And YouTube Punch Sunday Ticket, Finalizing Deal For Package After Drawn-Out Negotiations With Multiple Bidders

The NFL and Google have sealed a multi-year agreement giving YouTube TV and YouTube Primetime Channels exclusive rights to the NFL Sunday Ticket package in the U.S.

The pact, which takes effect in 2023, replaces a partnership between the league and DirecTV since the introduction of the Sunday Ticket package — which delivers out-of-market games to subscribers — in 1994. The NFL had held talks for months with multiple bidders, indicating last summer that it would likely head to a streaming service. Streaming has been a priority of the league given the surge in spending by digital players on live sports. Amazon, which now has exclusive rights to Thursday night games, was in the mix for Sunday Ticket, as was Apple.

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Pricing details have not been announced. On DirecTV, it cost $293 for a basic subscription at the start of this season. Financial terms for the rights were also not revealed in the announcement, but the deal is sure to be worth many billions for the league. DirecTV was understood to be paying $1.5 billion a season for the package. A tranche of long-term media deals set by the NFL last year netted about $110 billion, an acknowledgement of the league’s continued dominance in the linear ratings. Legalized betting has enhanced interest even more in offerings like Sunday Ticket.

“We’re excited to bring NFL Sunday Ticket to YouTube TV and YouTube Primetime Channels and usher in a new era of how fans across the United States watch and follow the NFL,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “For a number of years we have been focused on increased digital distribution of our games and this partnership is yet another example of us looking towards the future and building the next generation of NFL fans.”

The package will be available through YouTube’s pay-TV bundle, which now has more than 5 million subscribers, or as a standalone offering on YouTube Primetime Channels. The announcement of the deal promised “additional features and functionality” before the debut next season.

“YouTube has long been a home for football fans, whether they’re streaming live games, keeping up with their home team, or watching the best plays in highlights,” said Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube. “Through this expanded partnership with the NFL, viewers will now also be able to experience the game they love in compelling and innovative ways through YouTube TV or YouTube Primetime Channels. We’re excited to continue our work with the NFL to make YouTube a great place for sports lovers everywhere.”

Although streaming is a focus for the NFL, the league said it will work with YouTube to figure out a way to deliver Sunday Ticket to commercial establishments such as bars and restaurants. (DirecTV wound up handling that end of Thursday Night Football despite Amazon’s splashy multi-billion-dollar rights acquisition.)

The Sunday Ticket agreement will also include a carriage renewal for NFL Network and NFL RedZone on YouTube TV. YouTube and the NFL also said they will “facilitate exclusive access to official content and attendance opportunities” for select YouTube Creators at NFL tentpole events.

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