Updated: Aug 3
This serves as an update to the previous article I wrote on this matter, which can be read here: Buyer Beware? NFL Sunday Ticket
One of the problems I highlight in that article above is that in order to watch out-of-market NFL games, you need to either be a student and get the student deal, live in a place where DirecTV is not available, or be a DirecTV customer. The change from satellite to streaming seems to be rapidly approaching. It should be noted, the current deal ends after the 2022 season.
The prevailing view is that DirecTV will keep the satellite portion of the Sunday Ticket, but streaming rights may go somewhere else. (Pro Football Talk). Disney is still in the mix. But there is also talk about how the NFL may look to innovate the package. There are rumors that the NFL may cut out the third party and distribute it straight to the viewer. That is probably unlikely as they are more than able to get paid billions by doing a partnership with one or more streaming services.
The other rumor is that the package could be on some type of a “flex plan”. The current model gives all the out of market games on Sundays. However, it may be innovated where the consumer can choose which games to buy, whether by team, week, or one at a time. I know that I really just care about a few teams and I don’t need to watch the Jacksonville Jaguars play the Cincinnati Bengals (sorry, not sorry).
Innovation would be greeted with enthusiasm. But the bigger point remains, the break up of the current contract and allowing other stream services to pickup the NFL streaming rights may breakup the antitrust allegations. By spreading the product through multiple avenues, this may eliminate the price-fixing allegations, the clear lack of competition, and provide a substitute for people that are trying to cut the cord. The same issue remains for the new buyer or buyers, a non-exclusive deal is worth much less than an exclusive deal. But it could save them from a big lawsuit.
Xander Landy is an Associate Attorney at Knight Hoppe, Kurnik, & Knight, he graduated as part of the Marquette Law School Class of 2021. He can be found on Twitter at @zoolandy.