YouTube TV gets 7 years of NFL Sunday Ticket streaming, beating Apple’s bid, reports say
Apple wanted more than NFL would give, took its ball and went home
➡️ The Shortcut Skinny: YouTube intercepts Apple’s hail Mary 🏈
🤝 The NFL agrees to $2 billion/year YouTube TV NFL Sunday Ticket deal
🏘️ YouTube has residential rights, may get commercial for additional $200 million
📈 Deal will likely bolster YouTube’s subscriber count significantly
🍏 Apple lost the deal after asking for international and in-market rights
💔 There’s speculation Apple deal fell apart over AR/VR streaming rights as well
YouTube will be the new home of NFL Sunday Ticket, taking the intensely popular broadcast over from DirecTV, who currently pays $1.5 billion for the privilege.
Sources allege YouTube will get residential rights to stream the broadcast for seven years, beginning in 2023, after the National Football League accepted its $2 billion-per-season offer, which is down from the originally-rumored $3.5 billion asking price according to The Wall Street Journal. The deal leaves room for the price to go up, should viewership reach certain levels. The Journal also reports the NFL may license commercial rights for another $200 million.
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YouTube’s bid here will be a boon for the nascent internet cable subscription, which reportedly hit 5 million subscribers in July 2022 – a new high for the service – a number that nevertheless falls well shy of standard YouTube’s 2.2 billion users. The new deal will also probably hit DirecTV hard in a time when the service has already been hammered by cord cutting, which has seen the service lose over 30% of its subscribers in the last five years, according to the article.
The competitive NFL broadcast market
The rumor mill has been on fire regarding who would win the rights to NFL Sunday Ticket leading up to DirecTV’s contract expiration. Bids for the broadcast came from Amazon, which already won the rights to Thursday Night Football in 2021, massively boosting its subscription numbers during games, as well as from Apple and ESPN.
Apple, which inked a $2.5 billion deal for Major League Soccer rights over the summer and made a springtime deal with the MLB to show Friday night games, reportedly stepped away from the bargaining table for the NFL, saying it didn’t see the logic in the expensive license.
It sounds as though Apple expected more than the League wanted to give, reportedly asking for rights to stream internationally, as well as local, in-market games – both features of its 10-year MLS deal, but which NFL is reportedly unwilling to concede to (thankfully).
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Apple pushed for AR/VR streaming as well
There’s also been speculation that Apple actually lost the deal because it wanted to add exclusive AR and VR streaming to the license, but the NFL wanted to negotiate those separately. I suspect that wasn’t a deciding component, but maybe a carrot Apple was trying to dangle, and the NFL didn’t bite.
The NFL has long been a shrewd and protective negotiator, often leading to restrictive licensing agreements that have, in the past, lead to the death of fan-favorite properties like the over-the-top arcade game NFL Blitz, which was discontinued after Electronic Arts took over exclusive rights to make NFL games in 2004 – a deal it still holds key aspects of, 18 years later.