CBS, Fox contracts with NFL will prevent “significant reduction” in price of Sunday Ticket

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Many are excited about the inevitability of NFL Sunday Ticket landing with a new provider for various reasons, from the possibility of improved customer service over DirecTV’s current “please hold” approach to the potential for expanded functionality and more options for viewing out-of-market games. One important change won’t be made.

It won’t get a whole lot cheaper.

Alex Sherman of reports that language in the contracts between the NFL and CBS and Fox preclude a significant reduction in the price point for Sunday Ticket, which currently has a full-season price point in the range of $300. Likewise, an existing streaming service such as ESPN+ can’t simply add Sunday Ticket at no extra charge in order to boost subscribers.

It makes sense. CBS and Fox want people to watch the games offered in their local markets. If Sunday Ticket becomes too affordable, it’s see you later to normal Sunday viewing of the affiliates in a given area.

While I’ve got no reason to doubt the accuracy of Sherman’s report, I’d like to approach it from a different perspective. The NFL negotiated new contracts with CBS and Fox last year, knowing full well that the clock is ticking on Sunday Ticket. If the NFL wanted to create a pathway for cheaper access to Sunday Ticket, it could have changed the term in the CBS and Fox deals.

The NFL didn’t. Presumably, it didn’t want to. CBS and Fox likely would have offered much less to the NFL if it were indeed easier and cheaper for fans to get Sunday Ticket, even though the games available in the local market via CBS and Fox are blacked out. The NFL likewise positioned itself for a bigger payday for Sunday Ticket, given that anyone who wants it will be forking over significant money for the privilege of watching games other than those offered locally for free.

In other words, the NFL is using the full extent of its broadcast antitrust exemption to maximize revenue from CBS, Fox, and DirecTV by agreeing to and/or imposing terms that make it more expensive for fans who, for example, live in Jacksonville but root for the Steelers to see all Pittsburgh games.

There are inherent antitrust problems with telling fans their only way, if they live in Jacksonville, to see all Steelers games will be to buy the entirety of the Sunday Ticket package. Fans should be able to buy Sunday Ticket one game at a time, or one week at a time. Instead, it was — and will still be — a significant expenditure for any fans who don’t live in the market where their favorite team plays to follow the one team that drew them to the NFL in the first place.

Think about that one. The NFL wants you to have a favorite team. But the NFL subtly steers you toward the team where you live, by making it much more expensive to see the team you’d rather watch. There was a chance last year to make it cheaper by revising terms that protect the local CBS and Fox games, and the NFL didn’t do it.

Thus, while football is familygreed is good.

42 responses to “CBS, Fox contracts with NFL will prevent “significant reduction” in price of Sunday Ticket

  1. Why doesn’t the NFL allow someone who pays for Sunday Ticket the option to just pick your favorite team, say for $100. I think this would attract more people to purchasing Sunday Ticket. It probably won’t happen because it makes sense.

  2. My problem with the current Sunday Ticket is that you have to subscribe to Directv year round which really makes the cost around $1500/year. It wasn’t always that way. After my initial commitment for the equipment I subscribed to Sunday ticket a la carte for many years until I upgraded to HD equipment. I believe it was at that point where I could no longer get Sunday ticket a la carte. I’ve always been upset with NFL for taking a big consumer choice (pay TV provider) out of the hands of their fans and forcing Directv on them year round if you wanted the Sunday Ticket. There were workarounds (apartment, college kids, no view of satellites) but vast majority of people were forced to subscribe to Directv year round (with a vacation hold for part of the off-season). The new deal will at least allow the consumer to pick their pay TV provider (if-any) and not be saddled with an additional $1000 a year of junk fees and equipment on their house to get the Sunday Ticket.

  3. aren’t we supposed to be protected from Monopolies?

    Amazon has secret deals with USPS, the major airlines are down to 1 that is decent, Cable co’s collude to not have competitors in their area, make it difficult to just get internet so you can stream, make it almost impossible to cancel.

  4. $300 significant for a whole season of NFL football ?
    That’s one trip to the gas station and a quick stop at the grocery nowadays.

  5. Shocking, you mean to tell me the NFL is about money and not their fans. I am down to watching one sport, down from three. I gave up baseball several years back and hockey a couple years ago. I’m starting to get tired of the lies and deceit from the league of late and if things don’t change I will be down to filling my time with other activities. Trust me, it’s not that hard to remove sports from your life.

  6. As a fan it’s not the cost that is the issue. I don’t want the dish on my house. I’ll pay whatever to get the service through the streaming options already available. Just send it!

  7. I have been able to get free Sunday Ticket almost every year from DirecTV by asking for it. This year DirecTV gave me Sunday Ticket Max and I didn’t even have to ask. I don’t like the thought of paying $300+ for Sunday Ticket. I know that a lot of people are excited about the possibility of streaming Sunday Ticket. I for one prefer to get it on DirecTV. I like to watch sports live. When I stream games they are always 15 to 30 seconds delayed. That isn’t acceptable to me.

  8. Streaming will make it easier to provide a la carte pricing, but I think commenters will be surprised by the prices. If all the games are $300, games for just one team will be $200+.

  9. Maybe the lawsuit will prevail at least to allow some choices, although looking at other sports league settlements, single team package only save 15-20% over the all game packages.

  10. LOL. All these comments thinking they know what’s “best” for the NFL.

    The league has a whole business department dedicated to maximizing broadcast revenue. All the “solutions” everyone’s throwing up here have been analyzed to the nearest dollar by the NFL. You can bet whatever deal they get took into account every penny and knows how many subscribers they’ll get at that pricepoint.

  11. $300 or $800 or whatever is a huge discount. Cause I can still just buy the Sunday Ticket and not a DIRECTV package for 2 years as well. It’s a huge reduction in cost.

  12. I live in the Chuska Mountains and report DirecTV and the Sunday Tix have been very important to me ever since ’93. So I’m just thankful for what I’ve had.

  13. drinkblatz says:
    June 25, 2022 at 7:51 am
    My problem with the current Sunday Ticket is that you have to subscribe to Directv year round which really makes the cost around $1500/year. It wasn’t always that way.


    This isn’t true. I subscribed to Sunday Ticket just last year and did not have DirecTV.

  14. For the guys complaining about DTV, I get it, but a couple things for you. First, you don’t have to subscribe year round. DTV allows you to suspend service for 6 mos a year, no penalty. I suspend in Feb and restart at end of summer. Saves a little bit.

    And you also don’t need a dish, you can stream with the Sunday ticket app. Course you’d need a dish to actually watch the rest of the channels they force you to purchase with the family plan (base pack to get ST) but if those don’t matter to you than you’ll never need a dish.

  15. The NFL is in business to make money. Many people are willing to pay that price point by their own free will to watch their favorite team. No one is forcing anyone to do it. That’s not greed. That is business. I’m sure the NFL and whoever is going to be broadcasting Sunday Ticket next year have done their market research and have shown that the max revenue is x price point with y subscribers. That’s just business like any other thing you buy at any price point. Stop with this villainization of normal things.

  16. For the love of God please keep Apple out of the NFL! They would at minimum triple the price to 900 bucks but likely make the price $1500 or even more per year! And worse still, make it only available through their overpriced products!

    Everything Apple has done since its inception in the late 70s has been grossly overpriced for what you get. Why would Sunday Ticket be any different?

    I’m okay with either Amazon or Disney. Also gross mega institutions but at least both have a history of discounted offerings. DISCOUNT and APPLE are like water and oil … or whatever other polar opposite you want to compare it to.

  17. floriomike says:
    June 25, 2022 at 8:16 am

    Amazon has secret deals with USPS.

    Incorrect. The Postal Service is public entity, any contracts it has are public record and can be obtained through a FOI request.

  18. floriomike says:
    June 25, 2022 at 8:16 am

    Amazon has secret deals with USPS.

    The Postal Service has very public contracts with UPS, Fed Ex, Amazon, and other carriers to provide point of delivery services. These contracts are favorable to the taxpayers as they provide revenue to the Postal Service. There is nothing nefarious or secret about these arrangements.

  19. claudesq says,
    The NFL should lose its anti-trust exemption.
    Technically,… they don’t have wide ranging blanket anti trust exemption. MLB does. The NFL isn’t a monopoly. The USFL proves that.

  20. I think a lot of people would pay $300 for Sunday ticket, as long as they dont also have to subscribe to some other monthly service(Like Dish or appleTV).

  21. Every year DirecTV has offered Sunday Ticket for free or for a greatly reduced price for new subscribers. Would the new provider be precluded from doing the same thing? Also, every year I would just call DirecTV, wait on hold for a few days, and 100% of the time was able to get them to renew Sunday Ticket for 50% off or better. I can’t imagine any of the platforms ready to bid on Sunday Ticket wouldn’t expect and receive such flexibility. With the current digital TV landscape, there’s no reason why CBS and Fox can’t present ALL of their Sunday games to all markets, which would allow them to sell significantly more local advertising. On top of that, Red Zone shows NO commercials, and I know many football fans watch RZ in slots when their team isn’t being broadcast. RZ is basically a must for anybody who gives more than passing interest in their fantasy team. Currently, RZ on DirecTV is only available if you buy one of the Sunday Ticket packages, while it’s a standard channel for anybody who buys the relatively inexpensive sports bundle from their cable provider.

  22. Sunday ticket is overpriced and riddled with loopholes and exceptions.

    If these idiots don’t want people stealing streams online, they better bring the price down themselves.

  23. The fans here have spoken.
    We want free football on TV.
    Football welfare for us fans.

  24. The greed of the league, teams and players are going to eventually bring the NFL down to arena league status. People are tired of getting rooked and they’re gonna move on to other things.

  25. $300 to be able to watch all those games over the course of four months is really not a lot of money………especially if people will be able to eliminate their satellite service and switch to a less expensive provider/service for the rest of their viewing needs. Eliminating DirecTV and not having a stupid dish on your house makes it better and cheaper (even if the Sunday Ticket price stays the same).

  26. Seems to me this is not the Capitalism that Hamilton was thinking of. Protection from our government to protect corporate greed?

  27. So I just did some research and as an Amazon prime member I am able to download the Sunday ticket channel and watch for just the cost of the Prime subscription supposedly. Will see this in a couple of months.

  28. Realistically, individual games on a PPV basis would likely cost 10% (or more) of the season cost for all out-of-market games. If your a Broncos fan in South Carolina, you would probably end up buying a single game at least nine times, and maybe up to fourteen times. You are unlikely to save much money and probably spend more, all while having no access to multiple Sunday out-of-market games which might be of interest. Single-game PPV would be a poor value for almost everyone. And enough with the indignation about NFL teams being for-profit businesses. Watching TV sports isn’t a basic necessity, it’s a luxury.

  29. chickenbiscuit says:
    June 25, 2022 at 10:13 am

    The NFL is in business to make money. Many people are willing to pay that price point by their own free will to watch their favorite team. No one is forcing anyone to do it. That’s not greed. That is business. Stop with this villainization of normal things.


    Maybe you should stop with your defense of greed. The league could still be rolling in money by charging half of what it’s asking for everything – tickets, merchandise, TV packages, etc. But instead they choose greed. This is closer to oil companies choosing to inflate prices for record revenues when financial suffering is at a peak for consumers.

    This type of saturation of greed is quickly becoming normal but that doesn’t mean it’s not also villainous. The business model wasn’t always this way, and that’s the period where the league created loyalty and cultural relevance. This is where they start losing it.

  30. 49rdude says:

    So I just did some research and as an Amazon prime member I am able to download the Sunday ticket channel and watch for just the cost of the Prime subscription supposedly. Will see this in a couple of months.


    The app will not work without DTV subscriber credentials.

  31. Congress wants to stick it’s nose into the NFL’s business anytime it suit’s them. I guess they once again show they don’t give a rat’s hind quarters about anything that’s good for their constituents!

  32. I’ve been a DTV and Sunday Ticke subscriber since 1999. I will be sad when it goes to a streaming service as my internet speed here in western NC is about 5 mbps. I much perfer the satellite option.

  33. I had Sunday ticket for years. I mostly liked it. I even enjoyed watching more games than just my preferred team. When the local team is a dud it’s nice to be able to watch some other more interesting game. The biggest problem with it was, and will continue to be accordimg from this article, that the stuck-in-the-past networks got all whiney about people watching the Sunday ticket feed instead of the local affiliate. It was annoying to have to jump around. It’s not a concern for me that the NFL expects to make money. This is entertainmemt. But it’s frustrating, as a consumer, that I cant buy what I want because some old guys running the business are too scared to change their model even if it would actually make them MORE profit. See the Atlanta falcons approach to concessions in their new stadium.

  34. Careful what you wish you may regret it,
    Careful what you wish you just might get it…

  35. Keep Sunday Ticket in some way or another. Just figure out the amount that will not offend the broadcast partners to charge for streaming single out of market games. Whether that number is $10, $20 or $30, there will be plenty of customers.

  36. There haven’t been local blackout rules for a long time. The only reason someone would want to watch different coverage than FOX/CBS is wanting different announcers – which I doubt either network will admit.

    Before/after watching a local game, NFL RedZone is the best.

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