The NFL has gone The Wire season five Marlo Stanfield on its Sunday Ticket package. They removed the middle man and the price of the brick is not yesterday’s price. Through its new distribution partner — YouTube TV — the new Sunday Ticket options were released on Wednesday. Not only is it more expensive, but the NFL has finally gone direct-to-consumer.
Just like with DirecTV, Sunday Ticket can be purchased as an add-on to a YouTube TV subscription. If purchased before June 6, the cost will be $249. The NFL did away with the RedZone broadcast that accompanied Sunday Ticket, so for those who still want both the cost to add on Scott Hanson and Co. will bring the total to $289. For the procrastinators out there, purchasing either package will cost an extra $100 after June 6.
For those out there who don’t enjoy the Real Housewives (of wherever) programs or watch any sports besides the NFL, Sunday Ticket finally has a way that it can be purchased without a subscription to a television service. YouTube TV has a Primetime Channels offering in which people can select certain channels or streaming services a la carte. Sunday Ticket will cost $349 without a YouTube TV subscription before June 6, and $389 if RedZone is added. If purchased after that date, just like for those with monthly subscriptions both packages will increase by $100.
Back in the day...
When the NFL debuted Sunday Ticket in 1994 the cost was $99 if customers signed up before Aug. 15 of that year. After that date, the cost was $139. There was a time when the cost climbed all the way to $350 before DirecTV slashed the price and put out a basic version of it that cost only $199.95 in 2012.
In this new age of television, the only broadcast that Americans of all different backgrounds, political views, and entertainment interests watch is the NFL. The league has no reason to be reasonable about the cost of its most premium product.
To consume the NFL all a person needs is a broadcast antenna. The NFL airs games on broadcast networks for free. Opting to view the NFL that way gives fans local games, the late afternoon game of the week, and Sunday Night Football. That is in the neighborhood of 10 hours of football every Sunday during the season, including two of the best games on the schedule. Those games are why the NFL doesn’t have to figure out the problem of how individual teams replace television revenue as the regional sports network model dies.
For those who want more than those three or four games every Sunday, you will be contributing directly to the NFL’s goal of $25 billion in annual profits by 2027. If you live in New York but want to watch your beloved Detroit Lions it is going to cost you — and it is going to cost you a lot.
Why spend that kinda dough?
I get it. With so much free football on TV, there is no need for the NFL to give customers a break on the ability to consume all of it. The free games keep the ratings and rights fees up, while cash is made on the other end by those who want access to everything. This fact is why the only businesses more failsafe in this country than the NFL are local power companies, Amazon, and NBA stylists.
Whoever has control over the supply has control over the game. It’s why in The Wire, for all of Stringer Bell’s efforts in putting the co-op together the group belonged to Proposition Joe. That is what Marlo understood, and why once he figured out who the supplier was, Joe’s days on Earth were coming to a very near end.
The NFL controls the supply of live television entertainment in America, and it is flexing this power with these new Sunday Ticket prices. If you don’t want to pay for it, that is fine but it will be a pain for you to figure out what to watch on Sunday afternoons in autumn when several season-ending injuries have your local team at 1-6 before Halloween. There is no more DirecTV to call and threaten to cut off your service and get Sunday Ticket free for a season. I couldn’t even find a customer service number for YouTube TV.
So yes, the NFL upped the price of the brick and is going to continue to rake in money from every possible source.