The NFL has been trying to hunt down a new home for Sunday Ticket, what with DirecTV’s last year of hosting the subscription service concluding at the end of the 2022 season. Through leaks and reports, all eyes have been on Apple who seemed to be in the bidding lead, but two new reports suggest that the Cupertino company might lose out on the football mega-package after all.
According to Sportico, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that negotiations for Sunday Ticket’s new home are at a “very critical point.” That makes perfect sense since initial expectations were that a deal would close by this fall, and we’re currently in the last week of it. However, Goodell said that the decision where Sunday Ticket goes isn’t based on a timeline, so estimating when a deal could be reached is virtually impossible.
Sportico‘s report indicates that Apple is still in the running to get streaming rights to Sunday Ticket, but a second report from Puck News suggests otherwise. Apparently, Apple has significantly stepped back from its negotiations, with the report indicating the company has pulled out entirely.
It’s largely due to the limitations Apple would have to deal with if it were to broadcast Sunday Ticket games on Apple TV Plus. This includes no international streaming rights, blackout restrictions, and no additional fee for customers, which means you’d pay $6.99 per month and get Apple’s entire library of content plus Sunday Ticket.
That’s a really big ask from a company who just cut a deal with Major League Soccer to internationally broadcast every single game in the Apple TV app for the next 10 years for an extra $12.99-$14.99 a month (depending on whether you already have Apple TV Plus). It seems clear that Apple would want to position Sunday Ticket similarly as an add-on to the larger Apple TV Plus service.
While Apple’s negotiations remain entirely in the air, other companies who have expressed interest in hosting Sunday Ticket include YouTube TV, ESPN, and Amazon who recently started year one of an 11-year deal to exclusively air Thursday Night Football games.
At this point, there seems to be one sure thing: Apple’s Sunday Ticket license looks a lot less likely to happen than it did before, even if it’s still the front-runner in the bidding war.