Google’s YouTube is nearing a multiyear deal for the rights to stream the National Football League’s Sunday Ticket.
Google’s YouTube is nearing a multiyear deal for the rights to stream the National Football League’s Sunday Ticket, according to a person familiar with the matter, in another sign of major sports moving from traditional TV to online video.
Sunday Ticket is a subscription package that lets fans watch afternoon games that aren’t on their local TV channels. The current package is carried by the DirecTV satellite service under a deal that expires this season. YouTube, owned by Alphabet Inc., has been bidding against other tech and media giants including Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc. and Walt Disney Co.
Google has discussed paying about $2.5 billion a year to the league, or $1 billion more than what DirecTV pays, according to the New York Times.
The NFL declined to comment. Representatives for YouTube didn’t respond to requests for comment.
It would be the second big NFL package to move to streaming after Amazon gained exclusive rights to the league’s Thursday night games this season. It underscores the growing challenge to traditional TV, which is losing viewers to deep-pocketed online players. Live sports are among the most-watched programming on broadcast and cable TV, led by the NFL.
The deal moves Sunday Ticket from one of the largest US pay-TV services to an online world where it could potentially reach an even bigger audience. DirecTV launched Sunday Ticket in 1994 and used the games to attract new subscribers. DirecTV had about 13.3 million subscribers at the end of the third quarter, according to Fitch ratings.
But the satellite service, owned by AT&T Inc. and TPG Inc., limited the offering largely to its own pay-TV subscribers, charging about $300 for the 2022 season.
Because Sunday Ticket offers games not carried by local TV channels, it’s been especially popular in sports bars and restaurants, where fans can see the full slate of Sunday afternoon games.
Executives of DirecTV have suggested they’d like to continue to provide the service in those locations. Amazon struck a deal with DirecTV so that Thursday games would still be available in bars and restaurants.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has long said he wants to deliver Sunday Ticket on different platforms to appeal to a larger audience. In a 2019 interview with Bloomberg, Goodell said the league was “looking to see how we can change the delivery.”
The NFL has tried to strike a tricky balance with its broadcast rights, reaching agreements with traditional networks while also doing deals with streaming services to reach TV cord-cutters.