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“I clearly believe we will be moving to a streaming service,” the commissioner told CNBC. (Watch the full interview above.) He was speaking from Sun Valley, ID, where he is attending the Allen & Co. conference along with an array of media and tech execs, many of whom are NFL rightsholders.
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Goodell said deal terms will be finalized by the fall. The current DirecTV deal for Sunday Ticket, which gives subscribers access to every game played on Sundays no matter where they live, runs through the end of the 2022 season. Given aggressive investments in live sports by Apple and Amazon recently, the two tech giants have been reported to be in the mix for Sunday Ticket. ESPN has also been thought to be in pursuit.
Linear carriage “has worked very well,” Goodell continued, “but we really believe that these new platforms give us the ability to innovate beyond where we are today for our customers and especially younger demos.”
The commissioner’s stance is not exactly new. Goodell had indicated as far back as 2019 that the league would look to streaming for Sunday Ticket, though possibly as a complement to DirecTV, much as games have been simulcast on linear TV and streaming in recent years. It remains a possibility that DirecTV, which has shrunk in size but is still the largest satellite TV service with more than 14 million subscribers.
The Sunday Ticket offering is separate from the set of NFL rights packages that saw renewals totaling about $110 billion last year. Streaming is a storyline in those deals, with Amazon’s Prime Video set to start exclusive carriage of Thursday Night Football in September. Streaming services owned by media companies — among them ESPN+, Peacock and Paramount+ are also poised to stream exclusive games in coming years.
DirecTV is a much different entity from the one that initially fostered Sunday Ticket. In 2021, AT&T spun it off into a stand-alone entity with a new investment from private equity firm TPG, which now owns a 30% stake in the satellite operator. The transaction was a concession that the telecom giant’s $49 billion acquisition of DirecTV in 2015 had done more harm than good to the balance sheet.
Jill Goldsmith contributed to this report.
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