Sports Media: Sources: Apple, Amazon front-runners for Sunday Ticket – Sports Business Journal


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It appears likely that Sunday Ticket will move exclusively to a streaming service in 2023, as several sources have described Apple and Amazon as the front-runners to get the NFL’s out-of-market package.
Disney has not ended its negotiations for the package, which it would run on ESPN+, though the amount that Disney has told the NFL it will pay is said to be well below the amount Apple and Amazon have discussed.
Because negotiations are ongoing, it’s difficult to determine exactly where the bids are, but sources said it’s likely that the NFL will get more than $2 billion per year for Sunday Ticket.
DirecTV, which holds the package’s rights through next season, currently pays an average of $1.5 billion per year as part of a deal signed in 2014. DirecTV is negotiating to wind up with a commercial license that will allow the satellite company to sell Sunday Ticket to restaurants and bars.
A potential snag in these negotiations is the fact that the NFL is looking to sell a stake in its media business and its mobile rights at the same time.
Media and tech companies have showed a lot of interest in Sunday Ticket. Sources said the NFL could use the popularity of the package as an enticement to get one of these deep-pocketed companies to make a bigger buy.
Apple’s presence as an interested buyer is particularly intriguing, since it has yet to cut a significant deal for live sports rights — though it is likely to land a package of midweek games from Major League Baseball.
What makes Apple interesting to the NFL is the fact that, unlike Amazon and Disney, it does not already have a deal with the NFL.
Of note: Apple has been looking for a senior editorial manager of live sports that, according to online postings, would oversee “how some of the most exciting stories in live television are told on our platform.”
Amazon has gone through some changes in its sports department, bringing in longtime Amazon insider Jay Marine to oversee the company’s sports business. Amazon’s Marie Donoghue, who led the negotiations to bring “Thursday Night Football” to Prime Video, will not see her role changed and is playing a big part in these current negotiations.
On the Disney front, CEO Bob Chapek has been vocal about his desire to land Sunday Ticket and has vowed to spend more on content. However, some Disney insiders have been lukewarm to Sunday Ticket, believing that it would be wiser to spend that money elsewhere.
CBS and Fox have clauses in their NFL contracts mandating that Sunday Ticket can only be offered at a premium price, meaning that it likely will carry a similar price tag with a new partner as it does with DirecTV.
John Ourand can be reached at jourand@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @Ourand_SBJ and read his weekly newsletter.
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