Aug, 22 2013

There are about to be exciting times ahead for the various licenses tied to the National Football League. EA Sports’ exclusive deal with the NFL for the Madden franchise is almost set to expire (though chances are it will be renewed again), but that isn’t all that’s going to be talked about behind closed doors in the months to come.

nfl sunday ticket

NFL’s exclusive licensing deal with DirecTV for the Sunday Ticket package is also expiring at some point next year, meaning Commissioner Goodell and the NFL are all ears when it comes to fielding offers from new content providers. So who could be throwing their hats into the arena to compete with the satellite TV provider? According to AllThingsD, it might be Google.

Rumor has it Larry Page and other representatives from Google have been in early talks with the NFL regarding several things, and the subject of the Sunday Ticket package no doubt eased its way into the conversation. While it’s too early to tell if it means anything, it’s always fun to speculate what this could mean for the future.

Live games through YouTube?

One of the more obvious pitches we imagine Google will make will be to offer live streams of all NFL games through YouTube. It’s quite the viable platform for such a service, and it would bring Sunday Ticket access to a lot more people who might not otherwise be able to get in on the fun. Yours truly would love to pay for Sunday Ticket, but I’m also not willing to get DirecTV service for it.

The NFL might not care that a vast majority of their fanbase can’t get access to Sunday Ticket depending on how much money DirecTV is dishing them (seriously, no pun intended), but we know the league has been thinking about those on the outside looking in.


The NFL recently started offering those who can’t get DirecTV service the ability to buy the Sunday Ticket package for an annual price of $250, and will facilitate those customers through mobile apps and desktop websites. Giving Google a license for delivering games through YouTube would open the NFL to an almost limitless source of extra revenue that they were otherwise missing out on.

Open to all capable wallets

At the same time, we have to deal with the reality that faces us — the NFL probably won’t want to ditch traditional cable TV subscribers. The better solution, in my opinion, would be to offer a multi-party license, giving the likes of DirecTV, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Comcast and more the opportunity to offer the programming just as well as DirecTV has for the past several years.

History shows us NFL prefers exclusive licensing, but this is one area where the league could stand to make a lot more money working with several players than just the one. Such a principle should naturally extend to any online offerings.

The league has already shown major hints of wanting to provide digital, online access to content with the likes of NFL Game Rewind, Preseason Live, and the aforementioned online access to Sunday Ticket for those outside DirecTV’s range. Bringing folks like Google into the mix can only help things. And it doesn’t even have to be just YouTube, either — TV is another area Google could lean on thanks to the deployment of Google Fiber (though the current footprint alone isn’t big enough to justify a deal).

Of course, the NFL will have to get over their big time-y attitude and be willing to accept less money per license, but if they can get multiple major players on board then they’d still be making money hand-over-first.

Would you be willing to subscribe to NFL Sunday Ticket if Google were able to offer online access? Let us know how you’d feel about that in the comments below.

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