The NFL has one more big play to make with its media rights — but striking a deal is proving more complicated than simply picking a bidder.
The league intends to select a streaming provider for NFL Sunday Ticket this year, but exclusivity deals with its linear broadcasters have introduced challenges, per CNBC.
- Apple is believed to be the frontrunner for the out-of-market games package — the NFL is seeking around $2.5 billion annually.
- The league’s broadcast deals with CBS and Fox include exclusive access to local games, which has helped dictate the networks’ purchases of local TV stations.
- Those deals also reportedly mandate that Sunday Ticket retain a high price tag for consumers.
Apple would prefer a deal similar to the 10-year, $2.5 billion one it has with Major League Soccer, to which it holds global rights. Sunday Ticket is currently a U.S.-only product.
DirecTV holds the rights for Sunday Ticket through this season for an annual $1.5 billion. The company has historically lost money on the package. Amazon, Disney, and Google have also shown interest in the product.
The NFL is looking to pair Sunday Ticket with a stake in NFL Media, which includes NFL.com and cable networks NFL Network and RedZone.
The league may still adjust course and sell that stake separately, particularly if it hinders a deal for Sunday Ticket.