As we mentioned a few weeks ago, DirecTV’s exclusive NFL Sunday Ticket package is so vital to the satellite service’s business that AT&T can walk away from the two companies’ pending $49 billion merger if DirecTV and the NFL are unable to renew their contract. Now AT&T is trying to convince investors that Sunday Ticket could be a boon to its wireless business.
The Wall Street Journal reports that AT&T is talking up the possibilities for a wireless Sunday Ticket offering to investment analysts, with one saying that AT&T “expects that it can be a differentiator over the long run to gain incremental market share in both mobile and broadband.”
AT&T has been nipping at Verizon’s heels in the U.S. wireless market for years; it attempted to leapfrog VZW a few years back by acquiring T-Mobile, but that deal fell through when federal regulators expressed concern about only having three (and really just two) players offering nationwide wireless service.
The acquisition of DirecTV wouldn’t immediately give AT&T the wireless subscribers it needs to overtake Verizon, but it would give the Death Star access to more than 20 million DirecTV subscribers to whom it could offer wireless/TV bundles. Additionally, the phone company is banking on bringing the satellite service’s TV offerings to wireless users.
The Journal reports that one AT&T exec at a recent meeting on the Sunday Ticket idea suggested that the company could offer it to customers in a way that wouldn’t ding users’ monthly data allotments.
Now that’s just a suggestion, but if AT&T were to suddenly offer up an incredibly popular video service without having it count against the customers’ data caps, that would call into question all the claims by the wireless industry that data caps are needed to minimize congestion and to make sure that those who use the most data are the ones who pay for it.
Sunday Ticket is currently available on wireless, but you have to have either the full package from DirecTV or the online-only package for people without satellite access. Verizon offers its customers a streaming service that carries all prime-time NFL games, along with Sunday afternoon games in users’s home markets.