YouTube Wins Rights to NFL Sunday Ticket

YouTube TV
(Image credit: YouTube TV)

NEW YORK—After a heated bidding war for NFL Sunday Ticket between major streaming players, the NFL and Google have inked a multiyear deal reportedly valued at $2 billion a year (opens in new tab) for NFL Sunday Ticket to be offered on YouTube TV and YouTube Primetime Channels.

The deal marks a major shift in sports rights from TV networks and pay TV operations to streaming. The much delayed announcement came after a long bidding war between Amazon, Apple and Google (opens in new tab)

Last summer, the NFL had indicated the rights would likely go to a streaming service (opens in new tab).  Apple had originally been seen as the leading contender (opens in new tab) but dropped out last week. 

As a result of the deal, the rights to all out of market Sunday afternoon NFL games available in the NFL Sunday Ticket package, which had long been monopolized by satellite provider DirecTV, will now be streamed on YouTube TV & YouTube Primetime Channels.

DirecTV had been paying about $1.5 billion a year for rights to the package. Its contract is ending this season.

"We’re excited to bring NFL Sunday Ticket to YouTube TV and YouTube Primetime Channels and usher in a new era of how fans across the United States watch and follow the NFL," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. "For a number of years we have been focused on increased digital distribution of our games and this partnership is yet another example of us looking towards the future and building the next generation of NFL fans."

“YouTube has long been a home for football fans, whether they’re streaming live games, keeping up with their home team, or watching the best plays in highlights,” said Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube. “Through this expanded partnership with the NFL, viewers will now also be able to experience the game they love in compelling and innovative ways through YouTube TV or YouTube Primetime Channels. We’re excited to continue our work with the NFL to make YouTube a great place for sports lovers everywhere.”

Starting next season, NFL Sunday Ticket will be available on two of YouTube’s businesses as an add-on package on YouTube TV and standalone a-la-carte on YouTube Primetime Channels, the league reported. 

No details on pricing are yet available. Updated NFL Sunday Ticket product features and functionality will be announced ahead of the 2023 NFL season, YouTube said. 

The NFL Sunday Ticket offers all out-of-market Sunday regular-season NFL games (based on viewer's location) broadcast on Fox and CBS and allows U.S. fans to follow all their favorite teams and players no matter where they live. 

NFL Sunday Ticket launched in 1994 and has been distributed on DirecTV’s satellite service since its inception. 

The deal builds on a relationship between the NFL and Google since the League first launched its official NFL channel on YouTube in 2015. Since then, the NFL YouTube channel has grown to more than 10 million subscribers who enjoy clips, highlights, game-day compilations and exclusive original content series like NFL Follies and NFL Film’s two-time Emmy winning flagship series Gameday All-Access, a mic’d up players show bringing fans inside the huddle and on the sidelines for exclusive access during the game.

Since 2015, the NFL’s presence on YouTube has increased to include channels for all 32 NFL clubs, as well as ten official League channels including NFL Films, NFL Network and the NFL’s Hispanic channel, Mundo NFL. Since the start of the NFL/YouTube partnership, NFL content on YouTube has generated billions of views.

In 2020, the NFL expanded its partnership with a carriage agreement to bring NFL Network and NFL RedZone to YouTube TV subscribers. Under the expanded relationship, the carriage agreement has been extended.

The companies also noted that this new agreement will also see them work more closely together in international markets. This will include increased content on the NFL channel, the creation of a bespoke NFL International show available on the YouTube platform and the creation of a creator content program for select top YouTube creators globally.

Additionally, as part of the agreement, YouTube and the NFL will facilitate exclusive access to official content and attendance opportunities for select YouTube Creators at key NFL tentpole events. 

YouTube is now also the presenting sponsor of both Back Together Saturday as well as NFL Kickoff Weekend. Back Together Saturday is the League’s official start to training camp when all 32 NFL clubs hold practices with club-led fan events. YouTube’s presenting sponsorship of NFL Kickoff Weekend marks the first time a League partner will have a presence from the kickoff of the season on Thursday night through the weekend games and Monday night.

George Winslow

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.