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YouTube beats Apple to win the rights to NFL Sunday Ticket

The deal reportedly will cost Google $2 billion per season.

Published onDecember 22, 2022

NFL stock photo
  • Google has announced that it is partnering with the NFL to distribute NFL Sunday Ticket.
  • NFL Sunday Ticket will appear on YouTube TV and YouTube Primetime Channels.
  • Google is reportedly paying $2 billion per season for the deal.

The war over who gets the rights to distribute NFL Sunday Ticket is officially over. Google has won the rights and will bring the lucrative sports TV package to its YouTube platforms starting in 2023.

Google has announced that it has partnered with the NFL to distribute NFL Sunday Ticket. According to the Wall Street Journal, Google will pay roughly $2 billion per season to host the package on YouTube TV and YouTube Primetime Channels.

Google and the NFL’s deal will start next season in 2023 and will be an add-on package on YouTube TV and a standalone a-la-carte package on YouTube Primetime Channels. As for the current NFL season, the rest of it will play out on Sunday Ticket’s original home DirecTV.

NFL Sunday Ticket was launched in 1994 as a way to allow viewers to watch out-of-market regular season games on Sunday. Since its inception, DirecTV has had exclusive rights to show NFL Sunday Ticket, paying the NFL $1.5 billion the last time the company renewed the deal in 2014. The company didn’t place a bid to renew its contract this time around, opening the doors to other suitors.

For a long time, Apple was considered the favorite to win the contract, it was even thought that the two parties had actually formed an agreement. But Apple and the NFL ended negotiations without ever reaching a deal. According to a report from The Athletic, there are a couple of reasons it didn’t work out.

Supposedly, one of the reasons the deal fell through was that Apple wasn’t offering enough. “Apple reportedly wanted to pay less than the NFL sought so it could offer the product at lower prices than incumbent DirecTV, but the NFL’s contracts with Fox and CBS disallowed that,” says Daniel Kaplan.

Another reason why Apple and the NFL parted ways may be due to Apple’s pursuit of AR/VR. Apple was reportedly hoping the NFL would agree to what’s called “known and unknown rights” to broadcast the games on the company’s rumored VR headset. “In other words, there is no known virtual reality market for Sunday Ticket, but there might be one day,” Kaplan explains.

The final sticking point was the fact that the NFL believed that Apple’s competitors appeared to have a more robust media strategy. This matches well with the statement provided from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

For a number of years we have been focused on increased digital distribution of our games and this partnership is yet another example of us looking towards the future and building the next generation of NFL fans.

In addition to the Sunday Ticket deal, Google announced that its partnership with the NFL will bring increased content on the NFL’s YouTube channel, the creation of a bespoke NFL international show on YouTube, and the implementation of a content creator program for “select top YouTube creators globally.”

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