NFL Sunday Ticket Will Remain DirecTV Exclusive Until 2014

Sorry, cable and FiOS subscribers — the NFL and DirecTV have extended their Sunday Ticket exclusivity agreement until 2014 — with DirecTV paying a whopping $4 billion for the rights.

There is hope, however, as the “Red Zone Channel” (aruguably the best part of NFL Sunday Ticket and maybe the greatest thing in the history of television) will be made available on cable, mobile phones and the internet.

DirecTV will by 2012 provide the package through broadband to extend its reach to fans who can’t receive satellite transmissions. The league and DirecTV also will make available through cable, mobile phones and the Internet the Red Zone channel, which switches between games as teams move into scoring position.

NFL, DirecTV Extend Sunday Ticket Package Through 2014 Season [Bloomberg]

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  1. Yoko Broke Up The Beatles says:

    Darn, I guess I’ll have to continue to see my hometown team on my local broadcast station. For free.

  2. JohnDeere says:

    just cancelled my direct tv. not really b/c of the bad economy though, but maybe they are expecting a bailout and can afford it lol.

  3. Murph1908 says:

    And the consumer is screwed again.

    Non-DirecTV customers will not be able to purchase an item they might want.

    DirectTV customers will continue to pay a fee unburdened by the forces of competition.

    • wjamny says:

      @Murph1908:
      I’m not a huge fan, but this is what the NFL does to consumers after the stadiums are financed with taxpayer funds. Way to make this available to a larger population NFL. And let’s not forget that not everyone can get a DirectTV signal.

    • Raiders757 says:

      @Murph1908:

      Thank goodness for friends and sports bars. Oh, and direct streaming over the internet from European servers. I have three options to watch my Raiders play.

      …and yes, before anyone says it, Ha Ha, I’ve heard all the jokes that can be told already. I know, my team stinks.

      With as much as it costs to get the NFL Ticket anymore, you can go to the bar 16 times, take advantage of the specials, and come out ahead.

    • CmdX says:

      @Murph1908: Yes, and the NFL and local teams will make money from this with less hassle.

      The real money is from bars that have to purchase licenses from DirecTV. Very few bars don’t have access to a clear satellite signal (or can figure out how to get access to one) and getting cable setup in every bar in America would be difficult.

      I really wonder how much $$$ DirecTV makes from end users on Sunday Ticket anyways

  4. legwork says:

    Wait, don’t they know the worlds ends in 2012? Their broadband had better include Aethernet.

  5. Robert Jason Cervantes says:

    Meg:

    Read this article on SI.com by NFL writer Peter King. It talks about how this deal might have been made for other than obvious reasons.

    [sportsillustrated.cnn.com]

    • ncpeters says:

      @Robert Jason Cervantes:

      King’s article is somewhat incorrect in that while the NFL would get paid the full amount in 2010 in the event of a lockout future payments would be less to make up for the work stoppage.
      [www.profootballtalk.com]

    • Fred Morrison says:

      @Robert Jason Cervantes: So Robert, if a labor accord is reached prior to 2014, do you think that the NFL might ask DirecTV to adjust the contract to allow other carriers in order to increase revenue to the NFL? By law, any contract can be changed before it expires by the mutual agreement of all parties involved – it isn’t “cast in stone”.

      By not having that additional revenue (fron other sources than DirecTV) on the table during upcoming labor negotiations, the NFL would benefit by effectively “post poning” that new revenue stream until after they have the new labor agreement in place.

      I could see how DirecTV would gladly go along with such an arrangement to maximize their revenue as long as possible. However, in the long run, I have to believe that DirecTV sees the writing on the wall in terms of the NFL’s need to maximize the audience for Sunday Ticket and the NFL Channel and are just glad that the Sunday Ticket renewal just happened to correspond to a time period in which new labor agreement negotiations began.

      All of the above is pure speculation on my part, but it would be interesting to hear other opinions.

  6. GuidedByLemons says:

    Ugh. I’m getting more and more annoyed with DTV’s customer service–we won’t let you cancel that package until after it renews, and then we’ll just keep billing you for it until you call us 3 more times!–and the only reason I stick with them over other reasonable alternatives is Sunday Ticket. I really wish I lived in my team’s local market!

    • HIV 2 Elway says:

      @GuidedByLemons: When I lived away from my squad I just hit up the sports bar on Sundays.

    • mac-phisto says:

      @GuidedByLemons: their customer service is a trainwreck. i canceled back in december & had to call back 3 times to make the cancel official (the first 2 times, the CSR simply inactivated my service instead of canceling it outright).

      i’ve had to call another 3 times to get them to pick up their receivers (which they still haven’t done). i’m thinking i’m going to start charging them monthly storage fees of $50/box until they decide to take them back.

  7. lalaland13 says:

    I don’t like this at all, but I live in my team’s market, albeit not their core one. So I guess if I ever move out, then sorry, ‘Boys. Can’t afford Sunday Ticket, and don’t particularly want DirecTV. Besides, I’m not optimistic that the team will ever get it together as long as Jerry Jones has this “Oh yay fun a circus” mentality.

    • Anonymous says:

      @lalaland13:
      I live in LA, and I don’t have cable or satellite. I was able to watch every Cowboys game but 2 (MNF and NFLN) on regular TV. I went to a sports bar for those 2 games. It’s still less expensive for me to buy $20-$25 in food/drink per outing than to pay for Sunday Ticket.

  8. zonk7ate9 says:

    Any readers out there with a legal background that can explain why the other cable providers can’t band together and find someway to bring an ant-trust suit against DTV and/or the NFL for something like this? DirecTV has horrible customer service and overpriced service, but many people, myself included, are stuck with them if we want to watch our teams.

    • cromartie says:

      @zonk7ate9: Because the NFL has the right to license the retransmission of their product to whomever they choose, maybe?

      • zonk7ate9 says:

        @cromartie: Wouldn’t that be like Sony being the only able to use Blu-Ray drives in next-gen consoles because it’s their technology and they won’t liscense to Nintendo or Microsoft?

        • David Brodbeck says:

          @zonk7ate9: Sony actually has done that kind of stuff in the past. They aren’t now because it’s a good way to shoot themselves in the foot; new media formats need wide acceptance to succeed.

          This might be a stupid move but that doesn’t make it illegal.

    • alternatestory says:

      @zonk7ate9: I think this is the key, taken from Easterbrook’s excellent explanation of the issue:
      “In December 2002, the league gave the cable carriers a deadline for an offer for Sunday Ticket; the deadline passed, so the league re-upped with DirecTV; the cable carriers then presented a too-late offer and issued press releases denouncing the league for not waiting.”

      Under U.S. antitrust law, the mere holding of a monopoly (e.g., due to being the sole producer of a superior product) is not illegal. What is illegal is anticompetitive conduct — acting improperly to create or maintain a monopoly. The NFL apparently gave the cable networks a chance to make an offer in 2002, but the networks did not, and so the NFL continued to deal exclusively with DirecTV. Generally, a firm can set a price as high as they wish in the marketplace — it sounds like the NFL set the price high, and only DirecTV was willing to pay.

      I do think that this more recent deal could be subject to some antitrust scrutiny. Antitrust law is complicated; it is largely defined by case law rather than federal statute, and there are few clear-cut rules. The government, cable competitors, and private individuals can all file antitrust actions, although I imagine it would be quite an uphill battle, especially for private persons.

      (Standard disclaimer: This is not to be construed as legal advice.)

    • Joeb5 says:

      @zonk7ate9: more then CABLE?

      comcsat wants more then direct tv wants for less HD and way less dvr space.

      Cable does not have the bandwidth for all games in HD anyways.

      • zonk7ate9 says:

        @Joeb5: Does Comcast have a monoply in your area? Because in my area they are far cheaper than DirecTV (they are actually cheapest for internet too), but this is probably due to competition. We have a local company and AT&T as alternatives to comcast for both internet and cable.

    • tmed says:

      @zonk7ate9: This is less a matter of a direct anti-trust violation and more a violation of a public trust. The NFL was given an anti-trust exemption to allow it to control its markets artificially. They receive consideration and money from the state, local, and federal governments. They should have a recipricol duty to provide a higher quality product to those people.

      The government needs to take some time and consider removing the protections it has given to the NFL if it does not give greater consideration to those who want the product.

      • Fred Morrison says:

        @tmed: Your are correct about the government needs to remove the NFL’s anti-trust protection, but for me at least, the reason has nothing to do specificially with NFL Sunday Ticket: I don’t believe the government should be messing artificially with the free market. Period. The example you cite is simply one example. Take away the NFL’s anti-trust exemption (not as punishment) and stand back and let the free market work its magic. What we are seeing now with all the shenanigans going on with NFL Sunday Tickeet are the (perhaps unintended) consequences of government interference in the free market.

  9. cjones27 says:

    Gregg Easterbrook (columnist for Atlantic Monthly and does part-time work for ESPN) makes very good points about the NFL’s control over this and the NFL Network. Long read, but worth it.

    [sports.espn.go.com]

  10. Saboth says:

    Somehow I doubt they will recoup 4 billion from just people buying their special NFL package. Methinks everyone else ends up paying higher rates just because some people want to watch foosball. Just like how XM/Sirius could probably charge $7.99 a month and still make a profit, but they have to recoup their ridiculous Howard Stern, NASCAR, etc contracts, so everyone has to pay up, even people that just want to listen to music.

    • theblackdog says:

      @Saboth: Sirius XM does have a “music only” package :-P

      • Saboth says:

        @theblackdog:

        Yeah, I have that package. I still think $~11 a month (after tax) for just music (and they cut out like 30% of the music stations) is too much though. I think $6.99/$7.99 is a bit more fair for the channels you get with the music only package.

    • Joseph Beck says:

      @Saboth: They need 2.3 million subscribers times $300 annual subscription times 6 years to break even.

  11. ncpeters says:

    DirectTV’s exclusivity is why I go to a local sports bar every Sunday. I would buy the package if I could get it with my cable company, but there’s no way I’m getting satellite purely for this.

    • Raiders757 says:

      @ncpeters:

      I mentioned in a post above, that we probably pay a little less in doing so. For many, it’s almost $300 for the Sunday Ticket. Considering ones favorite team will be on a couple of times, one doesn’t have to go to the bar 16 times.

      One problem though, is that this deal puts more drunk drivers on the road on Sunday afternoons. THat’s a god image for the NFL to have.

      I”m just glad Raiders fans stick together so tight. We keep in touch and make sure everyone can get a free high quality stream online from home.

      There’s only one nation, The Raider Nation!

  12. JGKojak says:

    Sounds like an antitrust violation to me.

    And sounds like the NFL should lose its favored nation status if this isn’t changed.

    If I were CBS I’d want to know why I can’t make some ad $$ by broadcasting alternate feeds in SDTV on part of my digital channel.

    • David Brodbeck says:

      @JGKojak: I don’t see how this is an illegal trust. Presumably another network could have gotten this instead if they’d put in a higher bid.

      • ncpeters says:

        @David Brodbeck:

        Except nobody else was offered the chance to bid, despite promises by the NFL. This lie is a big reason why Comcast and Time Warner refuse to carry NFL Network on a basic package (price is the biggest reason).

        • David Brodbeck says:

          @ncpeters: I still don’t see how this is any more of an antitrust violation than, say, Sirius signing an exclusive deal with Howard Stern.

    • cromartie says:

      @JGKojak: Agreements signed by NFL rights holders do allow them to broadcast portions of feeds of other games.

  13. kwsventures says:

    The consumer is screwed again? What? There is no law in the constitution that mandates the NFL Sunday Package is available to all. Somehow, I think we will survive.

  14. cromartie says:

    Here’s the deal.

    It is in the NFL’s best interest to limit who gets access to Direct Ticket, in order to preserve the value of their over air broadcast package.

    In a sense, Sunday Ticket allows the NFL to compete with itself. Let’s say you live in Detroit, and the Lions game is on and the Lions suck. Unless you are a DirectTV customer, that is the only game you get during that time slot. If Sunday Ticket were available on cable, you would switch off of that game and into a more interesting one, thereby reducing the rating of the local market game and the broadcast network that antis up to broadcast it.

    Multiply this decision by millions of viewers and you see the problem. The short term gain of selling people Sunday Ticket on cable is offset by a long term decline in the value of the broadcast channel property.

    From the NFL perspective, having Sunday Ticket on satellite is perfect. It enhances their revenues from the broadcast rights without too much of a negative impact on the over air rights fees paid for by Fox, NBC and ESPN. They get to have their cake and eat it too.

    Sunday Ticket is the only thing about Direct TV worth having, or so I’m told. It serves as a loss leader to attract subscribers.

    Frankly, I’m shocked they conceded the Red Zone Channel.

    • zonk7ate9 says:

      @cromartie: It’s not the only reason to have DirecTV, but it’s one of the main two reasons. Contrary to the deceptive claims made by Comcast commercials, DirecTV actually has the most HD channels (OnDemand doesn’t count, pluse DTV has this if you download it to your box and I assume some of it is HD, therefore cancelling out Comcasts OnDemand). Even if I could get Sunday Ticket on Comcast, I don’t think I could go back to watching all those SD feeds.

      • Raiders757 says:

        @zonk7ate9:

        The NFL could broadcast their games via pay-per-view on cable networks. All in HD, so HD has nothing to do with it. MLB and NHL packages in my area all come in HD through Cox.

    • nybiker says:

      @cromartie: Hey, reply is working! Yippee!!

      Anyway, I took DirecTV when I moved. Of course, that was a number of years ago and since the house had the dish on the roof, I figured why not. Anyway, I just didn’t want TimeWarner since I had problems with them in my apartment. But now Directv has jacked up the rates again (I guess to pay that $4,000,000,000 fee). I have reduced my package (which is no longer offered) so that I have no premium packages. As I am a fan of no naming rights, I can’t sit through any sporting event without going bonkers over all the ‘official this and that’ ads, so no sunday ticket or redzone or blue zone or any zone ticket for me.

    • Anonymous says:

      @cromartie: Um, that would make sense except that Comcast and other cable companies have identical packages for NCAA et al for big $$$$ too, just like the Sunday ticket.

      People aren’t saying they want the Sunday Ticket as part of basic cable, they’re saying they want the option to get Sunday Ticket THROUGH cable providers like Comcast and are happy to fork over $200 for that each year.

      IMHO if the NFL really wanted to broaden its reach/make fans happy it would open up ST to cable.

      The way Direct TV makes so much is because it charges BARS a LOT more $$$ to have the Sunday Ticket than individuals. Per TV etc. It probably makes them viable as a company. I’d guess if they didn’t have Sunday Ticket they’d be bust by now.

  15. Roy Hobbs says:

    For all of the non-stop bitching about Comcast that goes on here, I would have expected that this would be viewed as a win for the forces of good.

    /they can take my Sunday Ticket from my cold, dead remote.

  16. TouchMyMonkey says:

    No wonder I keep getting called by the DirecTV people. I switched to Dish Network, and for the next several months (until I told them to please cut it out), I would get a couple calls a week from their customer retention people.

    Note to CSRs of companies that I just fired: I will only answer your stupid “why did you quit” and “what can we do to get you back” questions once. After that, I get hostile.

    1. No, DirecTV’s service is fine. Dish Network’s is just better and cheaper.
    2. DirecTV can’t get me Syracuse area local channels. Dish can, so they get my business. I’m finished playing with my roof antenna.
    3. I can get free Encore and a DVR (and lots of temporary freebies) for the same price I used to pay with DirecTV.
    4. Dish offers German TV.
    5. Dish’s user interface and remotes are better.

    If DirecTV is willing to spend about fifty metric shitloads of Rupert’s money to bring their service up to Dish’s, I might talk to them again in two years when my Dish Network service agreement expires, and the offer I get had better really kick ass.

    In any case, I don’t know why they think I would spend a whole afternoon with the installer guy changing out all my sh1t just so I can spend another one with a DirecTV guy re-installing the same equipment I just had the Dish guy rip out. It makes about as much sense as leather seats in a Yugo.

    • ncpeters says:

      @HurtsSoGood: Rupert Murdoch has nothing to do with DirectTV. He traded his stake in DirectTV to Liberty Media in 2006 in exchange for NewsCorp stock Liberty owned.

  17. Skaperen says:

    I just boycott the NFL.

  18. axiomatic says:

    NFL continues to be a VORTEX OF SUCK until 2014.

    Look here NFL douchebags. There are these things called TREES. Some of us have a FOREST of them in our way. Some of these FORESTS are wildlife preserves and can not be cut down.

    You need to provide at least one other method of getting the NFL Sunday Ticket.

    Did I mention that you suck NFL?

    • NeverLetMeDown says:

      @axiomatic:

      They have included exactly this. For people who can’t get DIRECTV, you’ll be able to buy the package streamed over the Internet. Launched by 2012 at the latest, but will probably come earlier.

  19. 3drage says:

    I stopped using and recommending DirecTV when they started suing their subscriber base.

  20. lawnmowerdeth says:

    Damn. I wonder how much they’re going to jack the price up this year.

    It was nice when it was $150 a season. But this $300 crap to include HD is just asinine. I’m sure I’ll be passing on it and going to the bar instead.

    • scooby2 says:

      @lawnmowerdeth: You must be one of the lucky getting Superfan for free. I could not get them to give it to me for free last year so it was like $275 + $99 for Sunday Ticket with the games in HD. I’m done with it this year though. My Steelers should have at least half their games in prime time. Hopefully I can find the rest streamed online. Other wise i watch the Bears or whatever is local.

  21. HiPwr says:

    Being a Dolphins fan living in “Chicagoland”, I look at Sunday Ticket every year. I just can’t get past that gigantic fee, though.

  22. HogwartsAlum says:

    Is that why my bill went up? Thanks a lot! >:(

  23. curtisawa says:

    I know this is really low on the list of priorities for everyone right now, but how is this not a monopolistic practice? Why is the NFL allowed to do this (Direct TV, Madden video games, Reebok clothes)?

    • cromartie says:

      @curtisawa: Any media entity is free to bid on the NFL. There are alternative professional football leagues either in the planning stages or in existence that networks could opt to show. They could also start their own league, as NBC did with the XFL, a joint partnership with NBC.

      The NFL has a fundamental right to license the use of it’s product and trademarks in the manner it sees fit.
      Nothing obligates a business to make all of aspects of it’s products available to all people in all markets.

      I’m not normally a corporate heavy, but people who can’t get Sunday Ticket and cry about antitrust get zero sympathy from me, including the increasingly delusional Gregg Easterbrook. Get DirecTV, Sirius, subscribe to NFL Field Pass, stop investing time and money in the NFL, change allegiances and root for your local team, or Allah forbid attend a game in person.

      It isn’t like we’re talking about one of life’s basic necessities here.

      • cromartie says:

        @cromartie: Amended to add that the XFL was a joint partnership between the NFL (who was working with Turner to start another league in the late 1990s) and WWE.

  24. rpm773 says:

    Sunday ticket was the only reason I signed up for DTV in 2007 when moving into my new house.

    Then, during the credit approval process, DTV discovered it had let someone else create an account in my name and run up a $1600 balance. My order was canceled while I jumped through the hoops to clear my name.

    Now I’m with Comcast. And DTV gets nothing.

  25. MBEmom says:

    I love this thing but it is crazy pricey. It’s the reason that my family switched from Dish to DirecTv. I’ve never had a problem with either company. It’s nice for those of us who are fans of a team that doesn’t get any local coverage (We are Packer fans living in DC).

  26. maevealleine says:

    Its NOT about making money off the NFL ticket. It’s about market share. If they lose NFL ticket, they lose a huge competitive edge and will loose even more of the small share they have now.

    It’s only a matter of time before dish companies go under anyway. The only companies that will survive are the ones that provide huge internet bandwidth (cable and phone).

    -cable company employee