The NFL has reached a deal with Google, granting the tech behemoth rights to distribute NFL Sunday Ticket to home viewers via two iterations of the YouTube brand starting in 2023.
The deal, which excludes commercial exhibitors like bars and restaurants, will cost Google “roughly” $2 billion per year according to the accounts of anonymous sources who spoke to the Wall Street Journal. The deal is also reportedly flexible, and could cost Google more “if certain benchmarks are reached.”
NFL Sunday Ticket is currently distributed by DIRECTV in a $1.5 billion per-year deal that covers commercial and domestic exhibition. Next year it will become an add-on feature available on YouTube TV, and on regular YouTube through a feature called Primetime Channels, which provides paid access to streaming services and other programming.
Sunday Ticket began in the ’90s as the NFL’s cable TV option for viewers seeking NFL games outside the in-market coverage provided by their local TV networks. Rather than watch whichever vying teams the local affiliates choose to show that Sunday, viewers with rooting interests or just curiosity beyond their local market could pay to watch just about any game airing that Sunday.
YouTube TV is just one of many live TV streaming services that allow cord-cutters with no TV antennas (or no terrestrial reception) to tune into in-market NFL games online. These include Fubo TV, Sling, DIRECTV Stream, and others. Comprehensive NFL viewing means cobbling together a patchwork of options culled from these, Sunday Ticket, and Amazon Prime, which exclusively carries Thursday night games.
Somewhat confusingly, more budget-friendly services like Paramount+ and Peacock also provide limited streaming access to the NFL. There’s also mobile-focused streaming app called NFL+ that doesn’t let viewers stream regular season games on TVs. Adding to the confusion, DIRECTTV Stream and Sunday Ticket are currently two different apps, even though DIRECTTV is a rights-holder for both in-market games and Sunday Ticket.
This deal could cut down on this complexity to some degree, making it much simpler for YouTube TV viewers to tune into nearly all NFL games on a single streaming app. That in turn could help YouTube, and by extension its parent company Alphabet, Inc., become a major contender in the streaming world.