The existence of the salary cap incentivizes fans to care about how much money is pouring into the league. Basically, the more money the NFL makes, the larger the salary cap will be, and the more likely one’s favorite team will be to retain or acquire talented players.
One of the biggest components of the league’s financial structure is broadcasting rights deals, and this offseason saw landmark contracts signed with nearly all of the NFL’s traditional broadcasting partners, including some expansions. But it appears as though there is one pretty large question that remains unresolved: who is going to have the NFL Sunday Ticket programming?
The short-term answer is DirecTV, because their contract runs through the 2022 season. But according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk and ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro, there is as of yet no deal solidified for rights to the package beyond that.
Though there was an earlier stray Tweet ‘report’ from Peter Kafka of Recode Media that NFL Sunday Ticket would be remaining with DirecTV, citing a league representative, the other reports indicate that that is not a done deal.
Hours after the Kafka Tweet, Ben Strauss of the Washington Post shared a quote from Pitaro. “We’ve had exploratory conversations with the league”, he said. “Sunday Ticket is an incredibly valuable product. When the league is ready, we are interested in having that conversation with them”. Strauss also wrote the following in an article for the Post about whether or not Sunday Ticket has a ‘home’:
Not yet. DirecTV currently pays around $1.5 billion annually for the package, which offers a full slate of out-of-market game to customers. That the package wasn’t announced with the others could suggest there isn’t as robust a market for it, though streaming services like ESPN+ and NBC’s, Peacock, are considered favorites to eventually land it.
A day after the above, Florio put together an article pointing out that the NFL Sunday Ticket package’s long-term future remains unresolved. “Many believe that the streaming component for the out-of-market Sunday games will land with ESPN+”, he writes. “It’s possible that DirecTV will retain the satellite rights. Given the number of people who still don’t have access to high-speed Internet access, the satellite package remains significant”.
Many out-of-market NFL fans don’t care for DirecTV owning the package simply because they don’t want to have to own DirecTV in order to have it, and Florio notes that DirecTV could go under if they lose it. But it would seem to behoove the NFL to give viewers greater flexibility in viewing their favorite teams, as just about every other major American sports league does.