If you have DirecTV in your home, it's likely because of NFL Sunday Ticket. If you've been to a sports bar, its plethora of televisions are assuredly connected DirecTV - even though DirecTV does not offer Longhorn Network, Pac-12 Networks and has not reached an agreement with SEC Network - and that's because DirecTV has Sunday Ticket. AT&T has announced plans to purchase DirecTV, if and only if DirecTV retains the rights to Sunday Ticket.
The four-year contract between the NFL and DirecTV, which nets the league $1 billion a year, expires this season. The future of DirecTV rides on retaining that contract.
That's how important NFL Sunday Ticket is to DirecTV.
With that in mind, it's impossible to take this advertisement (uncovered by Apple Insider) as coincidence.
For the first time, the satellite behemoth will offer its prized jewel to non-subscribers.
To be clear, in order to receive Sunday Ticket directly on to your television, you'll still need to subscribe to DirecTV. But the company is now offering packages that can deliver Sunday Ticket to every conceivable streaming device besides your television. That means phones, computers, tablets, and game consoles. (No word yet on whether it will be available on streaming devices such as Apple TV and Roku.)
There are a number of tiered subscriptions that put Sunday Ticket on different devices.
There are a number of ramifications here. First, DirecTV's primary competition for the next Sunday Ticket package is said to be the new money of the television industry located in Silicon Valley - Apple and Google. This would be a point in DirecTV's favor in the next round of negotations - "We can put the NFL everywhere they can, and on TV, too." Second, it could be seen as a win for DirecTV's competitors. It's likely ATT U-Verse subscribers would gain Sunday Ticket access already, assuming the merger goes through, but this gives DISH Network, Verizon, Time Warner, Comcast and all the smaller cable providers that Big Cable hasn't gobbled up yet incentive to keep its customers. Alternately, it could be seen a loss for the cable/satellite industry altogether. The number of cord cutters is growing. The ability to (now legally) get every NFL game without a cable subscription should only boost their numbers. Finally, if DirecTV can offer a "TV everywhere (except your TV)" package for non-subscribers, what's stopping ESPN for doing the same with SEC Network and Longhorn Network? Or the Pac-12 for its band of networks that I and most of you have never seen? (For instance, I've long wondered why I can't just pay HBO for the ability to watch Game of Thrones on my iPad and Apple TV, instead of funneling that money through a cable provider. I may soon wonder the same thing with SEC Network if ESPN and my provider don't strike a deal in the next month.)
It's too soon to know the possible ramifications - if any - that jailbreaking Sunday Ticket may have. But it will be fascinating to find out.