Starting next season, fans wanting to watch Sunday football will need to turn to a new place to access it: YouTube
"For a number of years we have been focused on increased digital distribution of our games," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement on Thursday, "and this partnership is yet another example of us looking towards the future and building the next generation of NFL fans."
The "Sunday Ticket" package has been distributed by DirecTV since its creation more than two decades ago, and the the TV provider was paying $1.5 billion per year for the past eight years of its NFL contract.
The terms of the YouTube deal haven't been disclosed, but the league was asking for roughly $2.5 billion annually for distribution rights to the package starting next season. The NFL had been in negotiations with Apple
During an interview in the summer of 2022, Goodell said that moving the package to streaming would be the best option for fans wanting to view the games. The YouTube agreement also isn't the NFL's first partnership with a streaming service: this season marked the start of Amazon's 11-year deal to distribute Thursday night NFL games.
"As the ways fans enjoy NFL football evolve in a changing media landscape, partnerships with innovators like YouTube will ensure that more games are available to more fans," said the Chairman of the NFL's media committee and owner of the New England Patriots, Robert Kraft. "This partnership will grow our game for future generations and allow them to follow their favorite sport."
Viewers will be able to purchase access to the "NFL Sunday Ticket" as a standalone product on YouTube Primetime Channels, or as an add-on for YouTube TV subscribers. Due to contracts with CBS
With 2 million average yearly subscribers, the NFL is the most popular live television content in the U.S., making this a massive opportunity for YouTube.
"Through this expanded partnership with the NFL, viewers will now also be able to experience the game they love in compelling and innovative ways through YouTube TV or YouTube Primetime Channels," the CEO of YouTube, Susan Wojcicki, said in a statement. "We're excited to continue our work with the NFL to make YouTube a great place for sports lovers everywhere."
Since it created its first channel in 2015, the NFL's presence on YouTube has expanded to include more than 40 official channels in total, and the NFL Network and NFL RedZone have both been available on YouTubeTV since 2020.
While YouTubeTV, the biggest online paid TV service in the U.S., has been around since 2017, YouTube Primetime Channels was launched in November of this year. The new service allows users to subscribe and watch content from other streaming services while on YouTube.