This season, NFL Sunday Ticket celebrates its 25th year of giving fans a chance to watch games outside of their local television market, but it appears it might have a new home before it reaches 30.
DirecTV has been the home of the NFL package since 1994 and has a deal that runs through the 2022 season, but reports indicate another media company is looking to acquire those rights.
Disney reportedly has emerged as a suitor for Sunday Ticket whether it becomes available next season (due to an early termination clause) or in three seasons.
Not only is Disney the parent company of ESPN, but network’s streaming subscription service, ESPN+, would seem to be a great spot for Sunday Ticket.
Mark Burns, a sports business reporter for Morning Consult, reported Wednesday that Disney CEO Bob Iger was eager to throw the company’s name into the hat for the rights to the Sunday Ticket package.
When asked about the NFL’s Sunday Ticket and if there would be a digital option, may it be a fit for the ESPN+ OTT service, Disney chief executive Bob Iger said there’s been “some exploration.” Added he’s bullish on NFL and opps. to strengthen relationship with the league $DIS
— Mark J. Burns (@markjburns88) May 8, 2019
In addition to Disney, the Sunday Ticket package has other suitors, according to Forbes.
Those include Amazon, which currently streams “Thursday Night Football,” as well as Google and Netflix, both of which have had talks with the NFL on streaming deals.
But Disney seems to be the most compelling landing spot for Sunday Ticket.
Meanwhile, DirecTV is showing a declining interest in football. Last month, its company, AT&T, announced it was dropping the NFL Network from DirecTV Now and U-Verse.
AT&T owns and operates both services and apparently didn’t even try to negotiate to keep NFL Network in the fold.
While DirecTV has an early opt-out to leave its deal with the NFL, the broadcast networks that air league games don’t have that same luxury.
That means NBC, Fox and CBS are locked into TV deals with the NFL through the 2023 season, though negotiations to extend the deals could begin at any time.
When Sunday Ticket started in 1994, it took some time to catch on as only about 65,000 people bought the package in its inaugural season.
While DirecTV doesn’t disclose how many of its users have the package, Bloomberg estimated that it had as many as 2.08 million subscribers for the 2018 season.
Whoever ends up with Sunday Ticket will have to pony up lots of cash to do so; DirecTV’s current deal with the NFL is worth $1.5 billion annually.
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