NFL, Google's YouTube near Sunday Ticket deal - report

The year is drawing to a close, with the NFL yet to announce the winning bidder for its Sunday Ticket sports package. But a fresh report from The Wall Street Journal suggests Google’s YouTube will likely be the Sunday Ticket’s future home.

According to the publication, citing sources familiar with the matter, negotiations between the league and YouTube have reached “advanced talks.” The parties could potentially reach an agreement this week once NFL owners sign off on the rights deals.

Terms being discussed couldn’t immediately be learned, said the WSJ, but games would likely be streamed both on YouTube TV and YouTube Primetime Channels – the platform’s new subscription-based streaming service aggregator. The sources added they don’t expect the NFL+ streaming service to be part of the deal.

Per earlier reports, Google has eyed the Sunday Ticket since at least July, pitting the company against the likes of Amazon, Apple and Disney. News of Google and the NFL nearing a deal comes just days after Apple reportedly bowed out of the race, as the company supposedly wanted a broader agreement than the league’s existing arrangement with DirecTV.

The NFL so far hasn’t disclosed the price tag for Sunday Ticket, but reports this year suggested the sports rights will likely be worth more than the $1.5 billion DirecTV is currently paying. The potential price increase has apparently pushed Disney out of the running, leaving just YouTube and Amazon – which already has the rights to Thursday Night Football – in contention with one another.

YouTube already has a slate of sports content within its YouTube TV virtual MVPD as well as with its existing streaming deal with Major League Baseball. The platform also said Primetime Channels will include sports streaming options such as NBA League Pass.

YouTube this year propelled its advertising ambitions by introducing monetization opportunities for YouTube Shorts. That move came as Google parent Alphabet reported the first ever quarterly drop for YouTube ad revenue.

What’s more, YouTube and YouTube TV have gained more traction in the streaming space, with Nielsen previously stating the platform and vMVPD together captured the highest streaming share for the month of September.