DirecTV may not renew Sunday Ticket

Mike Florio

As the NFL considers whether to cancel two years prematurely on DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket package, the folks at AT&T may be quietly rooting for the plug to be pulled.

According to the Wall Street Journal, via Sports Business Daily, AT&T COO John Stankey said that the value of the out-of-market-games package has “peaked and that a renewal — especially if it comes with a higher price tag — will be hard to justify at a time when consumers are canceling pay-TV connections.”

DirecTV has owned the package since its inception in 1994. Amid conflicting reports that emerged in the summer, PFT reported that the NFL has a one-way option to end the relationship after the 2019 season, and that the contract, if not terminated prematurely, runs through the 2021-22 season.

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“I don’t think we look at that and say it’s a growth product,” Stankey said of Sunday Ticket. “I don’t think we’re going to wake up a year from now and suddenly there’s going to be more people in the United States that want to watch an out-of-market team.”

The package costs $1.5 billion per year, which is one of the main reasons why the NFL isn’t expected to end it early. But the league would like to augment the satellite-based package with a strong streaming option, and Stankey’s comments suggest that DirecTV would be open to a two-company, satellite-and-streaming approach.

Plenty of DirecTV customers (including this one) got DirecTV and keep DirecTV because of Sunday Ticket. If/when DirecTV no longer has Sunday Ticket, plenty of DirecTV subscribers (including this one) would turn their dishes into oversized ashtrays.

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