A report this weekend from The Recent York Times says that YouTube is the most recent bidder for the NFL’s flagship content package, NFL Sunday Ticket. There’s still no winner within the bidding process, but Google’s video division is jumping into the fray to do battle with Apple, who, the Times says, is “considered the front-runner” within the deal. The winning bid is predicted to run upward of $2.5 billion per season.
NFL Sunday Ticket offers every out-of-market, regular-season Sunday afternoon game as a large, ~$300-a-year cable package. Nationally televised games and your local games aren’t included within the package, nevertheless it’s the whole lot else you normally would not give you the option to observe—around 13 extra games per week. Within the US, the service has been (mostly) exclusive to satellite TV provider DirecTV for years, with the last deal being signed in 2014 for $1.5 billion per yr. DirecTV’s current deal expires at the tip of this upcoming season, and because of plummeting TV subscribers, the beleaguered DirecTV not has the money to re-up with the NFL. Which means Sunday Ticket is up for grabs as the subsequent major chess piece in The Streaming Wars.
Amazon was the primary tech giant to leap into the NFL world by acquiring one other major NFL package, Thursday Night Football, for $1 billion per yr. Amazon has previously dipped its toes into the NFL waters by simulcasting Fox Thursday night games, but this yr, Amazon’s Prime Video exclusivity means Amazon must do its own production work. To this point, it appears to be gearing up for a top-class production: The corporate poached legendary play-by-play announcer Al Michaels from NBC and hired NBC’s 24-time Emmy-winning executive producer, Fred Gaudelli (who’s executive-producing each NBC’s and Amazon’s NFL packages now). Amazon has also hired a bevy of former NFL players to host the pregame, halftime, and postgame shows: Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez, future Hall of Fame cornerback Richard Sherman, and recently retired quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. It appears like Amazon is sparing no expense.
While Amazon’s Thursday Night Football production has involved spinning up a whole football operation from scratch—putting it in the identical league as Fox, CBS, NBC, and ESPN—Sunday Ticket requires rather a lot less production work. The winning company would only should simulcast existing local TV productions from across the US.
The report lists Apple, Amazon, ESPN+ (Disney), and YouTube (Google) as the key players within the deal. The Times says “a final deal has been delayed by negotiations over a concurrent sale of NFL media assets, including the NFL Network, RedZone channel, and NFL+.” The League has plenty of smaller packages to divvy up within the streaming era.
Brian Rolapp, the NFL’s chief media and business officer, told The Recent York Times: “Various firms are in strong position to potentially land Sunday Ticket, but we still have a ways to go on this process.”
The report says Apple has made winning the package “a priority,” nevertheless it’s not clear if Google is in it to win it or if it just desires to drive up the value. We regularly see Google take part in these Big Tech auctions, nevertheless it rarely closes a deal. The corporate made plenty of noise about participating within the FCC’s 700 mHz Block C auction in 2008 but mostly bluffed its way through the auction so the value would hit an “open access” threshold. Google didn’t win the $4.5 billion auction for Nortel’s patents in 2011, and it couldn’t close the deal during its WhatsApp bidding war with Facebook in 2013.
Then again, YouTube is facing an enormous amount of competition from upstart video platform TikTok. While TikTok is popular with younger generations, an NFL package could rating it a ton of viewers in an older demographic.