Will AT&T TV get NFL Sunday Ticket?

In case you’re reading this article at some later time, I’m writing it in late May, 2020. I’m basing it on the information that I have now, and a lot of that is speculation. If the world has changed a lot and there’s new information you want to add, leave a comment below.

NFL football will be back in the fall. That’s what we’re all being told. It may be that teams play in empty stadiums, and travel from city to city in sealed, private vehicles. It may be that each member of the staff is tested each day. I don’t know how they’ll do it, but I’ll be that NFL football will be back in the fall.

Why am I so sure?

Two reasons. First of all, there’s a lot of value in giving people something to root for during tough times. If all you get to see on a regular basis is the inside of your house, you might just need some normalcy to help your mental health.

But let’s be honest. There’s a lot of money at stake here. Companies like Disney, Amazon, CBS, Fox, and yes AT&T have paid in a lot of money to cover NFL games. They’ve spent that money because it brings ratings and subscribers. Take away football, and a lot of companies suffer.

But will NFL Sunday Ticket come to AT&T TV?

Right now, if you had to boil down the differences between AT&T TV and DIRECTV Satellite, it would come down to two big ones. One service requires professional installation, but has NFL Sunday Ticket. The other doesn’t need installation, and doesn’t have NFL Sunday Ticket.

AT&T TV is looked at as a mainstream service, while DIRECTV Satellite appeals to more well-heeled customers, those who are willing to pay more and get more. That’s the marketing angle, that’s how the company would like you to see the two services.

But there’s more than that, at least I have reason to believe there is.

But first, the disclaimer.

I’m not a lawyer. I’m not in the room where the lawyers do their work. See, I’m a blogger. I’m here making suggestions. I’d like to think they’re pretty informed suggestions. But nothing I say in this article should be construed as representing AT&T or any other entity who is involved in this decision. Mmmmmkay?

You won’t see NFL Sunday Ticket on AT&T TV this year, probably not next year either.

It’s not a technological issue. I have no doubt that AT&T TV could do NFL Sunday Ticket, technologically. After all, DIRECTV streams the package using its own app. I’m sure it’s technologically possible.

No, the issue is one of contracts. The NFL makes long contracts. The last one they made was before AT&T took over DIRECTV, and it’s in force until 2023. At the same time, their deal with Amazon to be the exclusive paid streaming home for NFL games also continues on until 2023.

If AT&T TV took on NFL games, it might be a violation of the contracts with both AT&T and Amazon. The contract with AT&T might not give them the right to sell a streaming package, and the contract with Amazon might not let any other streaming platform participate. It’s hard to know unless you have the contracts.

But no matter how you slice it, the ’20 and ’21 seasons are probably not going to change, at least in the way they are broadcast.

What happens in the 2023 season?

That’s the stuff the lawyers are probably working on right now. AT&T realizes that NFL Sunday Ticket is a big moneymaker for bar and restaurant customers. It’s not like the old days when they would pay literally anything to get exclusive streaming rights. Still, they have to know that having NFL Sunday Ticket gives them a huge advantage for bar and restaurant owners. They aren’t going to want to give that up.

As far as streaming, I think it’s a lot more complicated. AT&T might see the value in being the exclusive streaming provider for NFL. On the other hand, Amazon has an awful lot of money and they can outbid pretty much anyone, any time they want. They can also afford to give those streams away for free as they are doing now.

By late 2022, it should be interesting. Today, though, nothing big is going to change.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.