It’s reportedly down to Apple and Amazon as the front runners to land NFL Sunday Ticket, the league’s out-of-market games service, after its deal with DirecTV expires in 2023.
According to Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand, the winner will likely pay more than $2 billion per year for exclusive streaming access to the package. DirecTV is reportedly negotiating an agreement that would let it continue selling Sunday Ticket to businesses like bars and restaurants. Disney is still in the mix but is reportedly unwilling to pay as much as Apple or Amazon.
For Amazon, an NFL Sunday Ticket deal would extend the company’s streaming relationship with the league. Beginning with the 2022 season and running through 2033, Amazon Prime Video will be the only place to watch Thursday Night Football in what the NFL called its first all-digital package. Amazon Prime Video has been streaming NFL games since 2017 but within a tri-cast model it shared with broadcast partners like Fox.
For Apple, landing NFL Sunday Ticket would mark the company’s first foray into live sports, although Ourand said Apple is also likely to begin streaming MLB games. Unlike Amazon and Disney, Apple does not currently have any type of content agreement in place with the NFL.
Shifting Sunday Ticket to a streaming platform would be in keeping the league’s recent willingness to embrace live game viewing from outside of the traditional broadcast and cable/satellite TV universe.
Last year when the NFL renewed its agreements with broadcast partners, the deals all included streaming elements. CBS kept its Sunday afternoon AFC games and will livestream them on Paramount+. ABC/ESPN will be able to simulcast all games on ESPN+. NBCUniversal’s Peacock will simulcast all Sunday Night Football games and will get exclusive access to some NFL games throughout the deal. And Fox expanded its digital rights so Tubi can deliver NFL programming.
The Sunday Ticket negotiations are happening at the same time as the league is looking to sell NFL Media, which includes the NFL Network, NFL Red Zone and NFL.com. Sports Business Journal said the NFL Media speculation could present a “potential snag” in the Sunday Ticket negotiations.