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The Selling of Sunday Ticket

DirecTV hopes a pair of Manning family “fairy godfathers”
will help the satellite service drive subscriptions for its exclusive
“NFL Sunday Ticket” package.

New ads are part of a multiplatform campaign that touts
the benefits of the out-of-market live-game package, including
a major price deduction from last season’s offer.

The moves come as DirecTV looks to turn around a recent
stumble on the subscriber front: It reported a net reduction
of 52,000 subscribers in the second quarter of 2012,
the first such loss in the company’s history. The National
Football League package is a key fall recruiting tool for the
satellite-TV leader.

DirecTV is offering a base package featuring high-defi nition
games, plus a “Game Mix” mosaic channel, for $199.95
— down from last year’s $334.95.

A second, more-robust Sunday Ticket package that also
includes mobile and online access to NFL games as well as
the NFL RedZone channel, featuing real-time scoring highlights
from all games, will retail for $299.95, officials said.
New DirecTV subscribers get NFL Sunday Ticket for free.

“Those two price points are signifi cantly lower, which
literally takes it back to almost a decade to where the price
was 10 years ago,” DirecTV marketing vice president Alex
Kaplan said. “Clearly the idea is to make this product appealing
to the masses and grow our base.”

DirecTV has an estimated 2 million to 3 million Sunday
Ticket buyers out of a total subscriber
base of about 20 million.

The company is now running
the first of nine promotional spots
featuring Denver Broncos quarterback
Peyton Manning and
New York Giants QB Eli Manning
as fairy godfathers.

The ads continue a campaign
launched last year with ex-football
star Deion Sanders, who remains on
board this year. Other ads will roll
out over the next three to six weeks.

Kaplan also said he expects to
see growing mobile views of Sunday
Ticket games, after posting
“significant” increases last season,
though he would not reveal details.

Given the growing success of the mobile product, Kaplan
wouldn’t rule out eventually offering the mobile service
on a standalone basis.

“All of our product research says that the primary reason
people order Sunday Ticket is for the linear product — even
those who use the mobile product,” he said. “That will remain
our focus whether we offer a mobile product by itself
or not, but we think that there will be continual growth in
[the] linear business beyond just mobile.”

DirecTV will also target fantasy football players with
several features, including a player tracker for those interested
in fantasy teams.

The satellite firm also has teamed with the league’s website,, to offer an app that allows users playing the fantasy football game to track players on their
set-top box, Kaplan said.