The NFL Sunday Ticket package is only available to DirecTV subscribers, meaning millions of fans who don’t have the ability to put a satellite dish on their roofs are shut out. But that could change if AT&T succeeds in its attempt to purchase DirecTV.
The Wall Street Journal reports that AT&T is floating the possibility of offering Sunday Ticket to all its wireless phone customers.
That would be great news for football fans who don’t have DirecTV but do have AT&T, and it would make the Sunday Ticket package even more valuable. But by even discussing this possibility, AT&T may be putting the cart before the horse: The NFL hasn’t even agreed to renew the Sunday Ticket package with DirecTV, with or without the possibility of also making it available to AT&T wireless customers. And Verizon, which is both a partner of the NFL’s and AT&T’s biggest competitor, would probably have some objections to AT&T customers getting NFL games that Verizon customers don’t get.
More than anything, the fact that AT&T is discussing this idea is an indication of the power of the NFL. This year’s Fortune 500 listed AT&T as the No. 11 company in America, and DirecTV at No. 98, and the NFL is so important that if it doesn’t re-up with DirecTV for Sunday Ticket, the whole deal could fall apart. Exclusive access to Sunday afternoon NFL games is enormously valuable — so valuable that it could be one of the central pieces of a deal worth nearly $50 billion.