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News Update
DIRECTV Examines New 'Ticket' Pricing, Streaming
By Swanni


Washington, D.C. (August 25, 2013) - This is an update on our earlier coverage of the future of the NFL Sunday Ticket. See earlier article below.

In a survey sent recently to subscribers, DIRECTV is asking whether they would support different pricing plans for the NFL Sunday Ticket, and a less expensive Internet-only option, writes Reuters.com.

The survey is interesting because DIRECTV, which has had the exclusive rights to the pay package of Sunday NFL games since its debut in 1994, has publicly acknowledged it might be willing to share the games with other providers after its contract expires in 2014. In addition, Google has expressed an interest in licensing the games, apparently in part as an Internet-only service, according to AllThingsD.com.

It would appear that DIRECTV is trying to determine if their subscribers would be happy with perhaps paying less for a less exclusive arrangement with fewer features. Plus, Google's interest in an Internet play might be forcing DIRECTV's hand in offering a similar streaming edition of the Ticket.



Reuters writes that the survey suggests that the streaming plan would be cheaper than the normal price for the NFL Sunday Ticket. In fact, one question hints at a $26 a month plan. At that rate, the total streaming price for the season would be at least half of the normal price.

It should be noted that companies issue consumers surveys all the time prior to take action on difficult issues. But that doesn't mean that the questions contained within the survey will ever become reality, be it pricing or actual service plan, such as streaming. Consumer surveys are designed to test the waters to prevent a company from receiving too much negative fallout when it does act.

See below for our earlier coverage on this issue.
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News Update/Analysis
Why Google Won't Get the NFL Sunday Ticket
By Swanni


Washington, D.C. (August 22, 2013) - This is an update on our earlier coverage of the future of the NFL Sunday Ticket. See earlier article below.

Football and pay TV executives were startled yesterday morning when they awoke to an AllThingsD.com article that said Google's top executives have met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss purchasing the rights to the NFL Sunday Ticket.

The story had immediate resonance because DIRECTV's exclusive deal with the league expires after the 2014 season and the satcaster has made noises about either not renewing or sharing the package with other providers.

Plus, besides Apple, there may not be another company on the planet with more resources to snatch the NFL Sunday Ticket away from the deep-pocketed DIRECTV.

But it says here that Google will not get the exclusive rights to the NFL Sunday Ticket for two major and somewhat obvious reasons:

1. The NFL Cares About Exposure & Distribution, Too
While Google could distribute the package of games in several ways, including YouTube, its fledgling fiber TV service, and set-tops, it would have difficulty matching DIRECTV's current  audience of 20 million plus viewers. Sure, the NFL would love Google's money, but it may not want to sacrifice its capacity to reach a large audience through a reliable and time-tested pay TV provider like DIRECTV. (Or a consortium of providers that would share the package.) The NFL gains significantly from the marketing of the NFL Sunday Ticket and every eyeball counts. If Google couldn't promise -- and prove -- that it could touch as many people as DIRECTV on day one, the league would likely balk, even if Google outbid DIRECTV and/or a group of providers.

2. Google's Eyes Are Bigger Than Its Stomach
We really don't know the seriousness of Google's interest. The AllThingsD.com article only says a discussion took place. Well, discussions take place all the time in the business world, and more times than not, they lead to squat. Without a powerful distribution method in place -- like DIRECTV's or Comcast's, etc. -- it probably wouldn't be worth it for Google to invest what could be several billion dollars for the package. Yes, it may seem like the company has money to burn, but its leaders have been shrewd in how it spends and invests that money.

So, my view is that DIRECTV is the pole sitter in this race. If it wants the package as an exclusive, it's there for the taking. If it wants to share it with other providers, it can orchestrate that plan as well.

See our earlier article on this subject below.
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News Update
Could Google Steal the NFL Sunday Ticket?
By Swanni

Washington, D.C. (August 21, 2013) - This is an update on our earlier coverage of the future of the NFL Sunday Ticket. See earlier article below.

Google's top executives have met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss the possibility of purchasing the rights to the NFL Sunday Ticket when DIRECTV's exclusive deal with the league expires after the 2014 season.

That's according to an article by AllThingsD.com.

The web site reports that Google CEO Larry Page and YouTube content chief Robert Kyncl met with Goodell and other league officials and the Ticket was among the topics discussed.

Google and league officials are not commenting, but DIRECTV's exclusive hold on the pay package of Sunday games may be shaky due to the satcaster's interest in reducing overall spending on programming. DIRECTV may be more inclined to share the rights with other providers after the 2014 season to keep costs down.



But Google, which has cash to burn and a TV ambition to match, could step up and offer to buy the Ticket exclusively. The company could then offer the games in a variety of ways, including online and via its fledgling fiber TV service.

DIRECTV has been the exclusive rights holder to the Ticket since its launch in the mid-1990s, a position that has enabled it to attract millions of sports fans over the years. But times are changing and strategic spending has become more important than ever.

AllThingsD.com counsels that the Google-NFL meeting was informal and may not lead to more serious talks. But Google's interest in the NFL Sunday Ticket should give DIRECTV and other TV rivals a bit of a chill this August morning.

See our earlier article below.
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Will DIRECTV Keep the NFL Sunday Ticket?
By Swanni

Washington, D.C. (July 31, 2013) - Editor's Note: TV's Answer Man, aka Swanni, takes your questions regarding how to best use the latest products and services in TV technology. If you have a question about TV technology, ask TV's Answer Man by sending an e-mail to swann@tvpredictions.com

Q. I've had DIRECTV for years and it's the NFL Sunday Ticket that keeps me on board. What are the chances that DIRECTV will re-sign with the league for the package? -- Jay, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Jay, for starters, the current DIRECTV-NFL Sunday Ticket deal ensures that the satcaster will have the exclusive rights to the Sunday package of games through the 2014 season. At least until the end of the 2014 season, you won't be able to get the Ticket from any other TV provider.

So what happens after that? Sports Business Journal reported yesterday that early talks for a new agreement between DIRECTV and the National Football League are underway. But the publication notes that the value of the deal has been "chipped away" because other TV providers now can get the Red Zone channel, which provides real-time coverage of games when the ball is inside the 20 yard line.

DIRECTV, which paid $1 billion annually for the Ticket in the 2009 contract that extends through the 2014 season, may be less willing to pony up the big bucks now.
 

The SBJ also reports that there's talk "
within league circles (that) there could be some sort of hybrid model to replace the DIRECTV exclusive arrangement for its Sunday Ticket package." DIRECTV has publicly hinted at that concept as well, suggesting it could carry the Ticket package but not as an exclusive, which would allow other TV providers to offer it, too.

No doubt that it will all come down to money and it should be noted that DIRECTV will have an exclusive 'window' to negotiate with the league until the end of the year. After that, any TV provider could try to secure the rights to the Ticket package following DIRECTV's exclusive arrangement through the 2014 season.

Over the years, DIRECTV has attracted gobs of subscribers because of the Ticket. But the satcaster's concern over rising programming costs could force it to share the Ticket with other TV providers after the 2014 season.

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Phillip Swann is president and publisher of TVPredictions.com. He has been quoted in dozens of publications and broadcast outlets, including CNN, Fox News, Inside Edition, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Financial Times, The Associated Press and The Hollywood Reporter. He can be reached at
swann@tvpredictions.com or at 703-505-3064.



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