DirecTV has had the exclusive rights to Sunday Ticket ever since the package first became available in 1994. However, that agreement is expected to run out after the 2022 season, and the NFL is expected to open up the bidding to other companies.
The interested bidders, according to various reports, are expected to be everyone from big tech companies like Amazon and Apple to established media companies like Disney and Comcast, who have been broadcast partners of the NFL for many years. It’s also possible that the league could go with more than one partner and split the package non-exclusively.
In the meantime, the newly independent DirecTV is making a surprising offer to some of its customers.
As reported by The Streamable, “select DirecTV subscribers” have been informed that they will receive the Sunday Ticket Max package for free for the 2021 NFL season, a package that typically costs nearly $400. The offer is directed towards what DirecTV calls “our OG Fans.”
DirecTV confirmed that the offer was legitimate. The satellite broadcaster often offers a free year of Sunday Ticket to new subscribers to the service, although the free offer this year is for existing customers. It would appear to be an effort to either shore up DirecTV’s subscriber numbers or to keep customers on board with DirecTV, at a time when the satellite company has been bleeding subscribers significantly.
“Grab your face paint. The 2021 season of NFL SUNDAY TICKET MAX is Yours,” the email to subscribers says. “We know you love football, and to us—football is life. That’s why DIRECTV will celebrate this season of NFL SUNDAY TICKET MAX by giving it to you, our loyal fans—at no cost. No catch. No fine print. Zilch. Nada.”
The offer also includes the Red Zone channel, DirecTV Fantasy Zone and access to the Sunday Ticket app, which are included in the Sunday Ticket Max package.
This year, the standard Sunday Ticket package costs $293.94, while the Max package, with those add-ons, is $395.94.
It’s not clear when the NFL’s bidding process might begin on the Sunday Ticket package. The NFL earlier this year extended its lucrative standard TV deals, with Amazon set to take over the Thursday Night Football package. NBC, CBS, ESPN and Fox remain the league’s main partners, although the package will include more games on those networks’ streaming channels than was previously the case.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.