A report this weekend from The New York Times says that YouTube is the latest bidder for the NFL’s flagship content package, NFL Sunday Ticket. There’s still no winner in the bidding process, but Google’s video division is jumping into the fray to do battle with Apple, who, the Times says, is “considered the front-runner” in the deal. The winning bid is expected to run upward of $2.5 billion per season.
NFL Sunday Ticket offers every out-of-market, regular-season Sunday afternoon game as a giant, ~$300-a-year cable package. Nationally televised games and your local games aren’t included in the package, but it’s everything else you normally wouldn’t be able to watch—around 13 extra games per week. In the US, the service has been (mostly) exclusive to satellite TV provider DirecTV for years, with the last deal being signed in 2014 for $1.5 billion per year. DirecTV’s current deal expires at the end of this upcoming season, and due to plummeting TV subscribers, the beleaguered DirecTV no longer has the cash to re-up with the NFL. That means Sunday Ticket is up for grabs as the next major chess piece in The Streaming Wars.
Amazon was the first tech giant to jump into the NFL world by acquiring another major NFL package, Thursday Night Football, for $1 billion per year. Amazon has previously dipped its toes into the NFL waters by simulcasting Fox Thursday night games, but this year, Amazon’s Prime Video exclusivity means Amazon needs to do its own production work. So far, it seems to be gearing up for a top-class production: The company poached legendary play-by-play announcer Al Michaels from NBC and hired NBC’s 24-time Emmy-winning executive producer, Fred Gaudelli (who is executive-producing both NBC’s and Amazon’s NFL packages now). Amazon has also hired a bevy of former NFL players to host the pregame, halftime, and postgame shows: Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez, future Hall of Fame cornerback Richard Sherman, and recently retired quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. It sounds like Amazon is sparing no expense.