Considering today’s merger news and then looking back a year, it was really stunning that purchasing a $99 video game would provide access to NFL Sunday Ticket without a DirecTV subscription. Now we hear that AT&T plans to buy DirecTV – but only if the NFL Sunday Ticket is part of the deal.
DirecTV currently pays the NFL $1 billion per year for the rights to NFL Sunday Ticket. That’s approximately $49.51 for each of DirecTV’s 20.2 million subscribers. According to estimates by iStockAnalyst approximately 15 to 21.6 % of these also take NFL Sunday Ticket.
Will AT&T taking control of NFL Sunday Ticket benefit the consumer in any way? Don’t count on it. AT&T seems to be extremely good at growing market share through brute force tactics. Think back to the launch of the iPhone – an AT&T exclusive at the time – which paid off. AT&T is likely to use NFL Sunday Ticket effectively to compete with Comcast for market share. It’s a good bet that AT&T will kill any cord cutter friendly ideas like offering NFL Sunday Ticket via Playstation or including it with the Madden video game.
If AT&T/DirecTV/NFL Sunday Ticket goes through it will be bad for consumers for multiple reasons:
The YouTube video above captures precisely my experience with this company. In the video the customer has spent hours on the phone trying to get a simple issue resolved. Several years back I used AT&T’s U-verse and then later AT&T’s DSL. Somehow AT&T managed to mix up my payments so that one account accumulated a credit and the other kept going past due. It took hours to resolve.
Where I live the Pay TV market consists of the following:
- Time Warner Cable
- AT&T U-Verse
Unlike the Comcast/TWC deal, AT&T/DirecTV truly eliminates a competitor. And NFL Sunday Ticket is the tool that will help them do that. Many happy DirecTV customers will reluctantly switch over to AT&T to keep NFL Sunday Ticket.