The streaming wars are entering their live sports broadcast phase as companies position to get the most viewers.
The first couple of years of the streaming wars have been rough.
Consumers who cut the cord with their cable and television service providers now have a plethora of options to sign up for.
Between Netflix (NFLX) – Get Netflix Inc. Report, Amazon (AMZN) – Get Amazon.com Inc. Report, Disney+ (DIS) – Get The Walt Disney Company Report, Apple (AAPL) – Get Apple Inc. Report and numerous other platforms there are numerous big companies competing for eyeballs with legacy broadcasters like Fox (FOXA) – Get Fox Corporation Report, CBS (Paramount Global) (PARA) – Get Paramount Global Report, and Comcast (CMCSA) – Get Comcast Corporation Class A Common Stock Report.
Part of the strategy for the next generation of broadcasters is live sports.
Outside of Netflix, most of the big streamers have some sort of sports programming.
Earlier this summer Apple announced a 10-year deal with Major League Soccer, adding to its live sports portfolio which also features MLB.
Starting in the 2022 season, Amazon Prime Video will be the exclusive home of Thursday Night Football. Amazon and the NFL entered an 11-year agreement that was originally slated to start in 2023, but the pair agreed to start the partnership this season instead.
Speaking of the NFL, the league is officially shopping its flagship NFL Sunday Ticket package and there are already potential buyers lined up looking to score the deal.
The Race for NFL Sunday Ticket
The NFL is looking for the buyer willing to pay more than $2 billion annually for the rights to Sunday Ticket, which is the package that features all of the league’s regional broadcasts on Sundays, according to CNBC.
“I clearly believe we’ll be moving to a streaming service,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told CNBC’s Julia Boorstin in a recent interview. “I think that’s best for consumers at this stage.”
Disney, Apple and Amazon all submitted bids weeks ago for the package, which includes a stake in NFL Media and potentially mobile rights to the league’s game broadcasts.
Cable provider DirecTV has been paying $1.5 billion annually for the broadcast rights. A deal is not expected imminently, according to the report, as DirecTV still has the rights to Sunday Ticket for the upcoming 2022 season.
NFL fans would have to subscribe to DirecTV to have access to Sunday Ticket, that requirement wont be present in the new deal, CNBC reported.
The Satellite TV provider DirecTV, which is now owned by AT&T (T) – Get AT&T Inc. Report, has been the home to NFL Sunday Ticket since the service launched, and in 2014 it renewed its deals through this season.
It has been previously reported that DirecTV is negotiating for the right to a commercial license that will allow the company to sell NFL Sunday Ticket to restaurants and bars. It’s a license many sports bars are glad to pay for in order to get sports fans in seats, so if you’re used to hitting your favorite chicken wing spot every Sunday night to catch a game, not much is likely to change for you beyond the logo you see in the corner.
Shifting NFL Sands
Last year, Fox and the NFL signed a new 11-year media rights deal that will keep the league on Fox networks every Sunday during the season through at least 2033.
As the old contract expires, Fox is tied to the NFL financially for another decade, but the cost of doing business is going up.
Fox is reportedly paying about $2 billion annually throughout the life of the deal. That seems like a steep price tag until you realize that Fox is paying for the top audience draw in entertainment.
NFL games made up 75 of the top 100 most-watched broadcasts in the U.S. in 2021, according to a study by Sports Business Journal.