Like many of you, I first became aware of DirecTV in 1994, when the company provided football fans the opportunity, for the first time ever, to watch every NFL game. For 18-plus years since then, DirecTV has had the exclusive ability to make every game available.
That could soon be ending.
DirecTV CFO Pat Doyle said at a Wednesday investors conference that, if the price goes up too high when the current NFL Sunday Ticket deal expires after the 2014 season, DirecTV would consider “striking a non-exclusive deal with the NFL or possibly even dropping the popular package,” writes the Hollywood Reporter, via SportsBusiness Daily.
The fact that there’s no new deal only two seasons away from expiration of the current contract isn’t a good sign, given that the NFL usually extends these things years in advance. Complicating matters is the fact that the popularity of the RedZone channel, now available via cable, has made the Sunday Ticket package less important to many fans. Also, the availability of every game on NFL Rewind after the fact reduces the attractiveness of features that previously were exclusive to DirecTV.
Thus, with the money going up and the exclusivity being carved away, it’s no surprise that DirecTV is considering passing on the package. The question becomes whether the ability to watch all games would instead be sold to a cable provider — or to multiple cable providers.
Regardless of how it turns out, the fact that there’s no deal less than two years away from the expiration of the current one suggests that change is coming for the way fans purchase the ability to watch any/all Sunday afternoon games.