It’s that time of year again. And by that time of year I mean when DirecTV subscribers get automatically billed for their NFL Sunday Ticket packages. Maybe it’s the the $350-plus package that allows fans access to Fantasy Zone and Red Zone, or its the minimum streaming package at $200 but it’s a nice hit to the wallet either way. For years, DirecTV has used Sunday Ticket as a way to entice people to buy the entire satellite service. There were some thoughts that with AT&T purchasing DirecTV, Sunday Ticket may be more wide-spread and it looks like it will be, with a caveat. See below from the DirecTV Sunday Ticket streaming site:
*NFLSUNDAYTICKET.TV service is only available to non-DIRECTV customers who live in select multi-dwelling unit buildings (apartments, condos, etc.) nationwide in the U.S. where DIRECTV service is not available, live in select areas within various metropolitan cities, live in a residence that has been verified as unable to receive DIRECTV satellite TV service due to obstructions blocking access to satellite signals, or are college students. NFLSUNDAYTICKET.TV U only available to students actively enrolled in post-secondary educational institutions.
I know, what does this mean in english? It means some cord cutters are in luck while others are unfortunately going to have to head to their local bar if they want to catch an out of market game. Student cord cutters are the big winner because they can sign up for Sunday Ticket streaming and get a pretty big discount to their subscription.
It’s still weird. My apartment in Los Angeles — which already has a DirecTV subscription — is eligible for the streaming only option. This means I could save money by streaming now I know there are no repercussions to cutting the cord as a whole. I purchase NBA League Pass digital, and MLB.tv, and am eligible for Sunday Ticket streaming. I could just cut the cord with PS Vue and save money on my overall bill.
Now contrast that to my childhood home. It is not eligible for the streaming package. My parents are old school and will never cut the cord — explaining Netflix to them was like trying to learn how to read Sanskrit in a day. The house is a Comcast house, but that doesn’t mean my fantasy football obsessed father wouldn’t be interested in a streaming option for every game. The house is not eligible for the streaming package, so the discussion is moot. Just some missed revenue for DirecTV and AT&T.
Nevermind if the house was a cord-cutting home, but eligible for DirecTV. Then the argument would be that DirecTV wants to convert the cord cutter back to the satellite provider. That isn’t happening. That’s another $200-$350 out the door. When cable and satellite providers make this hard stand they are essentially throwing money out the window. Cutting off their nose to spite their face.
DirecTV has the right. It paid a pretty penny to keep exclusive Sunday Ticket rights. Historically it was a differentiation point, and it probably got them a few extra subscribers. Times are different now. Cord cutters are growing, so why not try and take some ancillary revenue off this new generation. Here’s a thought: if someone is in a DirecTV available zone and they want Sunday Ticket streaming, don’t immediately say no unless they get DirecTV. Charge them more than the normal rate. Fans may pay upwards to $500 for the package rather than $50-$100 at a bar every week. Give your current subscribers a discount — or what looks like a discount — and make both groups happy.
The NFL plays a role in this as well. If they want to grow the game to its $20 billion revenue goal, it should lean on DirecTV to get as many Sunday Ticket subscribers as possible regardless of eligibility. That’s more exposure for players outside of their endemic market and more jersey and apparel sold. It’s more exposure for sponsors and partners with signage. It’s more viewers for advertising partners if they add commercials to Sunday Ticket package. It seems so easy, but no one is executing.
Two years ago we covered the multiple options for Red Zone, Sunday Ticket, cable packages and streaming choices. There was more access for fans in 2014 than there is now, and that makes no sense. DirecTV and AT&T are moving backwards not forwards. It’s that time of year again where one of the top Google searches is how fans can stream NFL games out of market. Where fans try and figure out a way to get more games that they are willing to pay for. It’s that time of year where the NFL, DirecTV and AT&T decide they don’t need the ancillary income or the chance to grow viewership. It’s that time of year.