NFL, YouTube Agree to Contract for NFL Sunday Ticket Rights Starting in 2023 Season

Adam WellsDecember 22, 2022

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - OCTOBER 23: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on the field before a game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on October 23, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans defeated the Colts 19-10. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The NFL's Sunday Ticket package will go to streaming from the 2023 season.

The league announced Thursday it has reached an agreement with Google to have its regular-season game package available exclusively on YouTube TV and YouTube premium channels.

Bryan Fischer @BryanDFischer

NFL Sunday Ticket officially headed to YouTube TV: <a href="https://t.co/Ljt3kAau8Z">pic.twitter.com/Ljt3kAau8Z</a>

While official terms of the agreement were not announced, Ken Belson and Benjamin Mullin of the New York Times reported Google previously discussed paying the NFL $2.5 billion per year, plus "additional payments based on the number of YouTube subscribers that Google is able to add" along with other performance benchmarks.

DirecTV has been the home for Sunday Ticket since 1994. The satellite company signed an eight-year pact to retain the exclusive rights to the service in October 2014, with the NFL receiving $1.5 billion annually.

There has been speculation for months about where Sunday Ticket would land with DirecTV's deal set to expire after the 2022 season. Disney, Apple and Amazon were said to be among the companies in the bidding.

It appeared at one point that Apple was in the driver's seat, with The Athletic's Daniel Kaplan reporting in September 2021 the NFL was hoping the tech giant would win the bidding rights for the service.

"Apple, which did not reply for comment, is investing heavily in Apple TV+, home to hits like 'Ted Lasso' but not live sports," Kaplan wrote. "However, unlike Amazon, which is a retailer, and ESPN, a content company, the NFL with Apple would for the first time be doing business on a large scale with the preeminent technology giant. It would marry the NFL with the company that sells arguably the globe's most critical consumer product, the iPhone."

On Wednesday, Kaplan reported talks between the NFL and Apple broke down several weeks ago over Apple refusing to meet the league's valuation. That desire for a lower cost reportedly stemmed from Apple wanting to offer Sunday Ticket at a lower price than DirecTV currently costs.

According to Kaplan, the NFL's contracts with Fox and CBS forbid lower prices for the package due to concerns it would drive viewers to Sunday Ticket and away from the afternoon network broadcast windows.

"Also, Google's media strategy is more robust than Apple's, with YouTube TV a growing digital multi-channel platform, and YouTube itself with 2.5 billion monthly users," Kaplan wrote.

The NFL's deal with YouTube continues the league's expansion into streaming services. This season marked the start of Amazon's deal as the exclusive home for Thursday Night Football. The league also has television deals with Fox, CBS and NBC for Sunday games, while ESPN remains the home for Monday Night Football.

Based on the reported $2.5 billion annual figure for Sunday Ticket, the NFL will be making $12.5 billion annually just through streaming and television rights fees starting with the 2023 season.