Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) runs the ball in for a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first quarter at Raymond James Stadium, Oct. 2, 2022.
Kim Klement | USA Today Sports | Reuters
Are you ready for some “Sunday Ticket” football — with or without a pay TV subscription?
For the first time this season, the NFL’s package of out-of-market games will be offered as part of Google‘s YouTube TV, an internet-TV bundle of channels, as well as to those who don’t want to subscribe to a bundle of any kind, albeit, at a premium.
For those who already subscribe to YouTube TV, which costs $72.99 a month, the base “Sunday Ticket” package will cost an additional $349 for the season. The streamer is also offering a bundle with Redzone, the NFL’s linear cable TV channel, that will cost $389 for the season.
And though you can bypass the YouTube TV subscription and still snag “Sunday Ticket,” it will come at a cost. Offered through YouTube Primetime Channels, which allows you to subscribe to individual streaming services and channels as well as watch movies, the base plan will cost $449 and the Redzone bundle will cost $489.
All of the above packages come with a $100 discount for anyone who signs up before June 6.
“We have a really large audience of millions of sports and NFL fans that come to YouTube every day, and now can get access to this,” said Christian Oestlien, YouTube TV’s vice president of product management, in an interview. “One of the things we were really trying to do here was simplify the experience for the user with the flexibility and choice we can provide.”
YouTube TV became the newest home of the “Sunday Ticket” package in December, in a deal that will see the tech giant shell out roughly $2 billion annually for the rights, CNBC previously reported.
Until that deal, which kicks off with the upcoming NFL season, DirecTV had been the exclusive home of “Sunday Ticket” and required a subscription to the satellite pay TV service in order to watch the games.
The new pricing is in line with DirecTV’s offering, which Oestlien said YouTube leaned on as the current market precedent. The streamer also talked to existing subscribers about what they’d be willing to pay, he said.
“We didn’t want to give this away for free or anything. There was a real opportunity to price this in a smart way, and we worked really closely with the NFL,” Oestlien said.
DirecTV had held the rights to “Sunday Ticket” since its inception in 1994, and paid $1.5 billion annually for them since the latest renewal in 2014. The package cost $79.99 a month for the base option, or $149.99 a month for extra features, on top of a DirecTV subscription.
YouTube and the NFL are still doing research together about other new packages they could offer down the road, Oestlien said. There’s been a focus on midseason and late-season packages as potential opportunities, although the parties have nothing to announce at the moment, he added.
Move to streaming
Retaining the rights to “Sunday Ticket” will boost YouTube’s profile in the competitive streaming landscape, especially among internet-TV bundles once thought to be the answer to traditional cord cutting. YouTube TV, like other competitors including Hulu Live TV+ and Fubo TV, has been slow to fill the gap for those fleeing traditional pay TV subscriptions, and increasingly turning to the likes of premium entertainment streamers like Netflix. YouTube TV reached 5 million subscribers in July.
And the deal could be seen as a win for the traditional TV network channels, too: The cheaper pricing available to YouTube TV subscribers — which includes the broadcast and cable TV channels that recently renewed their rights deals for NFL games — could entice football fans to opt into the whole bundle and keep eyeballs on other networks, which have seen viewership fall due to cord cutting.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said at the time of the YouTube TV deal announcement that the league had “been focused on increased digital distribution of our games.”
“This partnership is yet another example of us looking towards the future and building the next generation of NFL fans,” Goodell said in December.
Oestlien said the deal “opens up a whole new market to people who would have been less interested in getting ‘Sunday Ticket'” from traditional pay TV means.
Recently the NFL said it teamed up with RedBird Capital Partners to form a partnership that holds the exclusive rights to distribute “Sunday Ticket” to bars, restaurants and other commercial venues in the U.S.
Amazon holds the exclusive rights to “Thursday Night Football,” requiring a Prime Video subscription to watch the games at home. However, DirecTV airs the games for bars, restaurants and other businesses.
— CNBC’s Alex Sherman contributed to this article.
Disclosure: Comcast, which owns CNBC parent NBCUniversal, is a co-owner of Hulu.