Suppose you are a die-hard Miami Dolphins fan who couldn’t attach a satellite dish to your home or have been living in an apartment unable to connect a dish, or just didn’t want a satellite dish but wanted the NFL Sunday Ticket? In that case, the countdown is on to 2023 because your Dolphins’ Dream is coming true.
AT&T and DirecTV are losing money and have bowed out of the talks to retain the package.
The NFL Sunday Ticket launched in 1994, and it was revolutionary at the time. Football fans whose favorite team was not in the city they lived in now had the option to watch their team play every week. Along with every other NFL game that took place on a Sunday.
Granted, it meant having to hook a satellite dish on your roof, but for die-hard NFL fans, that was a small price to pay.
For other fans, it was the opportunity to watch any game they wanted without being trapped by only having the games their local networks carried.
It was football heaven.
Football fans had never had it so good.
But as technology changed, as more NFL games were put on in primetime (Thursday night slate, the 3rd game on Thanksgiving, Monday Night doubleheader Week 1), fewer games were available on the Sunday Ticket each year, yet the cost of the Sunday Ticket kept going up.
Also, in the early days, DirecTV was creative with their Sunday Ticket package, offering the Game Mix channel, a fantasy football channel where you would get fantasy football updates in real-time as the games were going on with the instant analysis, the Red Zone Channel (not to be confused with NFL Redzone), letting you have a remote control for your system in your favorite teams’ colors with their logo on it, and they offered the Short Cuts review of games in 30 minutes amongst other things. That innovation seemed to have stopped in recent years.
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— DolphinsTalk.com (@DolphinsTalk) April 23, 2022
DirecTV ran into the issue as technology changed and people started “cutting the cord.” That issue was the last thing people wanted was cable TV, let alone a satellite dish on their roof. Combine that with the constantly rising cost of the Sunday Ticket each year, people became annoyed as they would see DirecTV offer it for free for new subscribers, but the long-time subscriber who were there since the 90s kept getting hit with higher and higher rates each season.
AT&T (which owns DirecTV) found the Sunday Ticket package financially not sustainable within the past few years. With the rights fees they had to pay the NFL for exclusivity and a diminishing audience who was cutting the cord, they had to make the tough decision to bow out of extending the Sunday Ticket Package with the NFL.
Which opened up the door for all other providers to get into the game.
And with streaming platforms now more of the norm, they all wanted this package because between Peacock, ESPN+, Netflix, HULU, Paramount+, Apple TV, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, YouTube TV, ROKU, and so many others, it is just a matter of time before some of these streaming platforms begin to die and go away.
One way for these platforms to secure long-term survival is to be in bed with the NFL and have the most prestigious NFL package out there.
At the writing of this article, it is reported that Apple is the clubhouse leader to land the NFL Sunday Ticket Package. One outlet is even saying the deal is done, and both sides are just waiting to make a formal announcement.
And if the deal isn’t done, then another streaming platform like Amazon Prime or ESPN+ will jump in and grab it.
There is no question that the NFL Sunday Ticket will be a streaming entity.
Now, stay calm for those who may live in a rural area and do not have high-speed internet access available to you. The rumor is that Apple will sell the Sunday Ticket’s rights to a satellite company letting those who live in areas without high-speed internet still be able to get the Sunday Ticket over a satellite dish.
This would only be available for those in rural areas and not made available to the majority of the country. Everyone else would need to get it through the streaming service.
— DolphinsTalk.com (@DolphinsTalk) April 21, 2022
So with the NFL Sunday Ticket being a streaming platform (most likely on Apple TV), what changes can Dolphins fans and other NFL fans expect to see?
The days of calling in and complaining and “threatening to cancel” so DirecTV would cave and give you the Sunday Ticket for “FREE” are now over. You can email, mean tweet, call Apple all you want; they will not be giving you the Sunday Ticket for free. Maybe they have a similar situation as DirecTV where for all “new” Apple TV+ Subscribers who sign up for a one-year subscription, you get the Sunday Ticket for “FREE” in year one. But after that, plan on paying for it each season. Apple will not be giving out the freebies as DirecTV did.
The NFL Sunday Ticket is going to be more expensive. I know some of you are reading this thinking, how can it get more costly than it already is? Well, Apple is saying “HOLD MY BEER” because if the rumors are true and Apple is paying somewhere between $2.5 billion to $7.5 billion per year (number rumored to be closer to the $2.5 billion) for these rights, they are going to have to recoup that money some way. Currently, with DirecTV the Sunday Ticket costs $300 per season, and if you want the Sunday Ticket MAX that costs you $400.
Is Apple a big enough company where they could sell the Sunday Ticket at a cheap price, use it as a “lost leader” to prop up iPhone, Macbook, and Apple Watch sales and bring people into that Apple Universe and convert them into customers who buy Apple products? Yes, they could. But they won’t. Apple is in the business of making money. And if you don’t believe me go to their website and look at what they are charging for their new shiny toy, the Studio Display.
Apple will change the way consumers watch the NFL and, in turn, change the way consumers watch professional sports in this country. We are already seeing a little of this with the Friday Night Apple TV baseball package that started a few weeks ago. Crystal clear picture quality, different stats, and multiple graphics/stats/percentages on the screen at all times.
Now, with that, Apple is producing those games, and with the Sunday Ticket, CBS and FOX will be producing the games, and Apple is just sharing them with their subscribers. As we know, though, Apple is thought of as the most innovative company in the world. And they could bring features and options to games on the Sunday Ticket that you can’t get with a regular over-the-air network broadcast.
When you log into the Sunday Ticket and turn to a Dolphins-Browns game, and if you don’t like the announcers, could you have the option to mute the announcers and just have crowd noise in the background as if you are at the stadium? That may be coming.
If you want extra stats to pop on the screen after every play, could you hit a button as an option to show those stats for the fantasy football enthusiasts who live and die by that? That may be coming.
Could Apple partner with DraftKings, Fan Duel, or Caesars sportsbook and have live betting odds on the screen at all times for player props, an ever-moving point spread throughout the game, or if the next play will be a run or pass, where the consumer simply pushes a button on their iPhone or iPad with their finger taking them to their betting app to place a bet instantly? THAT MAY BE COMING!
Expect better video quality; maybe even Apple can work with CBS and FOX to broadcast all games in 4K on their streaming service.
Expect the NFL Fantasy Zone channel to continue and be revamped and most likely better.
Expect an enhanced and improved Fantasy Tracker where you can put all of the players on your fantasy team in on the Apple platform, and when a player scores, it takes you right to that game, or the notification on the screen comes up fast with an option to hit a button and watch a replay of that score.
Change is coming, folks, and it will be here in 2023.
— DolphinsTalk.com (@DolphinsTalk) April 21, 2022
SOMETHING THAT PROBABLY WON’T HAPPEN
Now, I know there are a couple of things fans are hoping for that I don’t think will happen.
One of which is an ala carte option where fans can only buy their favorite team’s games. So, if you are a Miami Dolphins fan in Topeka, Kansas, and you don’t want to spend $300-$400 for the entire Sunday Ticket but would spend $200 just to get every Dolphins game each Sunday, yeah, I don’t see that happening.
Mainly because CBS and FOX probably would be very upset with that. It would undercut the money both networks pay to air the AFC and NFC package if fans can just cherry-pick one team’s games to watch on Apple.
People have to remember, in 1994, when the NFL Sunday Ticket began, the NFL didn’t want it available to everyone. They didn’t want it easily accessible. They wanted to protect their network broadcast partners as much as possible.
Now, 2022 and 2023 compared to 1994 are night and day as technology has changed and streaming is “a thing,” but the NFL still needs to protect its broadcast partners as much as possible. And if you let Joe Fan in Utica, NY, only pay for Dolphins games, and he only watches Dolphins games, the majority of which are on CBS. Then you have just undercut what FOX can charge for commercials on their games.
At least if you make Joe Fan buy the entire NFL Sunday Ticket package, then FOX and CBS can go to their advertisers and say, hey, this amount of people watch us on over the air network, and “potentially” this number of people have multiple games produced by us at their disposal with the NFL Sunday Ticket.
It keeps the broadcast TV network strong with their advertising dollars.
Change is coming, and in this instance, change is good.
It will be good for Dolphins fans who didn’t want DirecTV or couldn’t connect a satellite dish to their living quarters.
And with this change, Apple will reinvent the way we consume football. It will be a very exciting time to be a fan of the NFL, and if our Miami Dolphins are winning, it will make it all the better!
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