The NFL expects to select its new Sunday Ticket streaming partner by the fall. In a July 8 interview at the Allen & Co. Sun Valley conference in Idaho, Commissioner Roger Goodell told CNBC's Julia Boorstin, "I clearly believe we'll be moving to a streaming service. I think that's best for consumers at this stage."
According to CNBC, Apple, Amazon, and Disney (which owns ESPN+), are all vying to become the league's exclusive distribution partner of NFL Sunday Ticket. Goodell explained that by shifting Sunday Ticket to a digital provider, the league could capture a wider audience, as many people who watch games on streaming services don't subscribe to traditional pay television.
"We really believe these new platforms give us an ability to innovate where we are today," said Goodell. "It obviously makes it more available to our consumers, particularly the younger demographic, which is one that we really want to get to. I think this will make it more accessible for fans. I think it will be a better experience for fans."
Sunday Ticket provides fans the only opportunity to watch live NFL Sunday afternoon games beyond what is broadcast in the local CBS and FOX markets. DirecTV paid $1.5 billion for annual rights, but the league now seeks more than $2 billion, CNBC reported. CBS and Fox have contractual language that prevents streaming services from charging fans much lower than the current Sunday Ticket price of $300.
DirecTV will not bid on the package renewal but is open to partnering with the winning company, according to CNBC. With few exceptions, current DirecTV Sunday Ticket customers must simultaneously sign up for their paid television service. New streaming service partners will remove this requirement, making Sunday Ticket more accessible.
Goodell also revealed the league would launch a streaming service, NFL+, for the start of the September season. He did not specify pricing or what will be available on the platform but noted that content would evolve with time.
"It's really in an early stage," Goodell said. "I think over the years it will continue to grow. It will be an important strategy for us going forward." In May, the Sports Business Journal reported that NFL+ would launch by the end of this month.