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DirecTV Mulls 'Co-Exclusive' Arrangement for NFL Sunday Ticket

NFL Sunday Ticket
(Image credit: DirecTV)

Will Tom Brady really retire? Where is Jimmy Garoppolo going? What's going to happen with NFL Sunday Ticket after next season?

Yes indeed, with the Super Bowl finally behind us and all NFL focus now directed to next season, the fate of the league's venerable -- and expensive -- out-of-market game rights package is a hot topic of discussion.

Also read: The NFL Quietly Takes 'Sunday Ticket' DTC and OTT

DirecTV's $1.5 billion-a-season rights deal for NFL Sunday Ticket expires after the upcoming 2022 season. DirecTV has been the exclusive home for the add-on live-sports package since its inception in the mid-1990s, and the broad assumption has been that the pay TV operator won't re-up for a new licensing deal, which could be as much as five times more expensive. 

The NFL has reportedly talked to Apple and Amazon, among other deeper-pocketed, more digitally driven companies about taking on NFL Sunday Ticket starting in 2023. But DirecTV might have a role in a more diversified future distribution paradigm for the package. 

Citing a source with "knowledge of the dynamics," NBC Sports reported that the league "will sell the whole package to a tech company" for a fee that could hit $7.5 million per season. 

NBC added that the NFL" may break off satellite rights to be sold only to consumers (typically, very rural) who lack access to the kind of Internet service needed for reliable streaming. That could be DirecTV, it could be Dish Network, it could be both, and it could be neither."

Meanwhile, speaking to CNET, DirecTV Chief Content Officer Rob Thun said he also can imagine a relationship whereby his satellite TV outfit shares NFL Sunday Ticket rights with a streaming provider. 

"I don't think [the NFL is] interested in an exclusive relationship beyond the term of our underlying deal," Thun said. "And what form the licensing takes with one partner or many is still undetermined, and we'll see how that plays out."

The league, Thun added, might be interested in a "co-exclusive" arrangement.

"They understand that the money still largely comes through the traditional TV bill, pay-TV doors, and they don't want to close the door on that entirely," Thun said.

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!