“I clearly believe we’ll be moving to a streaming service,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said during an interview Friday with CNBC, an overt nod by the league to long-simmering conversations about the next step for the package, which has been held for years by DirecTV and broadcasts regular-season games that aren’t available on local stations. The main customer has long been thought to be a fan of a particular team who doesn’t live in its primary media market.
Recent speculation has held that Disney, Apple or Amazon could be interested in the Sunday Ticket rights. Disney operates ESPN and the streaming service ESPN+. Amazon has developed tighter relations with the NFL through its streamcasts of Thursday Night Football, a program it will have sole rights over in the fall. And Apple has in recent weeks shown new interest in sports, securing deals for Friday-night Major League Baseball games and a broad Major League Soccer package.
Sunday Ticket is the only unsecured piece of the NFL rights portfolio. The league signed a massive deal with Disney, Fox, Paramount Global, NBCUniversal and Amazon in March of last year that kept the bulk of its games under the purview of traditional media players through 2033. Under the structure of the pacts, Amazon took control over Thursday Night Football from Fox, and Disney was placed in the rotation of networks that air the Super Bowl.
During the interview, Goodell suggested that streaming would make Sunday Ticket games more widely available, rather than just for DirecTV subscribers.
He also indicated that the NFL is getting ready to launch its own direct-to-consumer streaming service, which might offer all kinds of footage and archival material. “The consumers want it,” he said of the property, which he said was in “early stage” development. The NFL may release more detail about the concept in weeks to come, Goodell said, potentially in time for its next season.