The NFL’s contract with DirecTV runs through 2022, but according to the Sports Business Journal, the league is considering exercising a clause that would allow it to opt out after the 2019 season and shop the NFL Sunday Ticket package on the open market. The league was originally supposed to be able to opt our before this season, but according to SBJ’s Daniel Kaplan, the league wanted more time to review data related to how many fans consumed games via a streaming service.
The NFL and AT&T, the owner of DirecTV, quietly agreed over the summer to move back the league’s option to end the deal early from this fall to next spring. As part of that agreement, the league allowed DirecTV to stream Sunday Ticket in seven markets: Boston, Hartford, Los Angeles, Louisville, Philadelphia, Phoenix and San Antonio, said a source familiar with the deal.
The NFL wants to analyze how much demand there is for offering games digitally rather than just through satellite before making its decision. With the option originally available in the fall, the league decided it did not have enough time to make an informed choice.
That seems to suggest that the NFL is considering making the Sunday Ticket package either exclusively a streaming project or two separate products for television and an over-the-top streaming service. It already does the same thing with Thursday Night Football.
Opting out of the deal would also allow the NFL to hit reset on exactly what Sunday Ticket is. The price point is very high on DirecTV considering that the package’s appeal has dwindled since the invention of NFL RedZone. Perhaps it would be more profitable for the NFL to offer Sunday Ticket exclusively as a streaming service and market it as an ideal second screen option for gamblers and fantasy owners.