The NFL strongly prefers to resolve all claims against it secretly, so that the league can keep its secrets. Regarding the Sunday Ticket package, some fairly intriguing secrets could eventually be revealed.
During draft week (that’s my excuse for not getting to this sooner), Daniel Kaplan of TheAthletic.com posted an item regarding some of the information that has come to light during the ongoing Sunday Ticket antitrust litigation. Because the case is proceeding in open court and not through the league’s internal arbitration processes, things the league would rather be quiet are getting out.
First, a ruling from the presiding judge regarding a squabble about documents produced by the NFL disclosed the full list of options for Sunday Ticket, post-DirecTV. Beyond YouTube, the candidates were Apple, Amazon, Roku, and ESPN. The league also considered making the package directly available to consumers.
Second, further disclosures could show that the talks with Apple failed because Apple wanted to make the package significantly cheaper for consumers. The plaintiffs in the Sunday Ticket antitrust litigation essentially are arguing that the league has withheld documents that would show Apple wasn’t selected due to its plan to offer the package for less than consumers have been paying.
It has been suggested that Sunday Ticket can’t be offered at a significantly lower price, due to the NFL’s contracts with CBS and Fox. Beyond the price of the full package, Apple might have wanted to allow consumers to buy Sunday Ticket for all games of only one team, or one week or game at a time.
As it stands, Sunday Ticket continues to be an all-or-nothing proposition. One large, flat fee for everything. If you only want Packers games, you have to take the rest. If you only want certain weeks, you have to take them all.
Regardless of the outcome of the pending case, a potential P.R. disaster is looming for the league, if/when fans realize the lengths to which the “football is family” crowd has gone to make it unreasonably more expensive for families across the country to watch only the out-of-market games they want to see.
If, for example, the NFL could have gotten the same money from Apple for Sunday Ticket and consumers could have gotten the games for less, that’s about as bad of a look as the NFL could have to some of its most rabid and loyal customers.