YouTube has finally announced pricing for NFL Sunday Ticket, but it doesn’t want you to wait until fall to sign up.
Until June 6, the company is offering $100 off the first season of Sunday Ticket. That brings the first-year price to a still-steep $249 when bundled with YouTube TV, or an even-steeper $349 on a standalone basis through regular YouTube. Adding NFL RedZone to either plan costs an extra $40 for the season.
Because Sunday Ticket only covers out-of-market games, YouTube’s bifurcated packages are likely to cause some confusion and heartache once football season starts. Before you jump in with the presale, pay close attention to what you’re paying for.
Don’t miss TechHive’s coverage of the best live TV streaming services.
How does NFL Sunday Ticket work on YouTube?
First, let’s clarify the difference between YouTube TV and plain old YouTube:
- YouTube is the service best-known for its millions of free, ad-supported videos. Among other things, it also offers a marketplace called “Primetime Channels” for subscription video services, one of which will be NFL Sunday Ticket.
- YouTube TV is a separate service that’s basically a replacement for cable TV. For $73 per month, it offers a big bundle of pay TV channels along with an array of optional add-ons, one of which will be NFL Sunday Ticket.
Jared Newman / Foundry
DirecTV will no longer sell Sunday Ticket in 2023, so these will be your only options for out-of-market NFL games for the next seven years. With that in mind, YouTube’s regular pricing for Sunday Ticket is as follows:
- YouTube Primetime Channels: $449 for the season, or $489 with NFL RedZone.
- YouTube TV: $349 for the season, or $389 with NFL RedZone; plus, $73 per month for YouTube TV itself.
Signing up by June 6 will save you $100 on any of the above packages, but only for the first year. And if you go with YouTube Primetime Channels, Sunday Ticket will auto-renew at the regular price unless you cancel beforehand. (The best time to do so is right after signing up.)
In both cases, the core NFL Sunday Ticket offering is the same: You’ll get live access to out-of-market games, along with a “multiview” feature for watching up to four games at a time. The difference with YouTube TV is that you’ll also get a full pay TV package to go with it.
Jared Newman / Foundry
Meanwhile, the NFL RedZone add-on will provide whiparound coverage of early and late afternoon games. YouTube TV’s $11-per-month Sports Plus add-on also offers NFL RedZone without the need for Sunday Ticket, but no standalone RedZone option exists for YouTube Primetime Channels subscribers.
Does NFL Sunday Ticket include all NFL games?
Once more, with feeling: NFL Sunday Ticket does not include local or nationally broadcast NFL games. With the NFL RedZone add-on, you might occasionally see local action through that channel’s whiparound coverage. Coverage is otherwise limited to out-of-market games on Sunday afternoons only.
That means if you subscribe to NFL Sunday Ticket through regular YouTube, you’ll need to look elsewhere for local games, Sunday Night Football on NBC, Monday Night Football on ESPN, Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime, and the entirety of the NFL playoffs. If your TV has an onboard tuner, you might consider buying an over-the-air antenna to bring in local TV broadcasts. Take a look at TechHive’s coverage of the best TV antennas.
But by now, you should see the potential for chaos: With YouTube taking pre-orders, some folks will sign up for NFL Sunday Ticket on a standalone basis only to realize come football season that it doesn’t entitle them to complete NFL coverage. At that point, it’ll be too late to switch over to the YouTube TV version that costs $100 less (plus the price of YouTube TV, of course).
Conversely, YouTube TV’s version of NFL Sunday Ticket requires an active YouTube TV subscription to access. If you sign up this way, and then decide to try a different live TV service—or cancel your TV bundle entirely—you’ll lose access to the NFL Sunday Ticket subscription you already paid for.
Hence the need for foresight when choosing one of these plans. Bundling NFL Sunday Ticket with YouTube TV makes sense for those who are committed to the latter for at least the next nine months. If you want flexibility, it’ll cost you an extra $100.
Why NFL is Sunday Ticket so expensive now?
While YouTube’s Sunday Ticket price is a lot higher than the $294 that DirecTV charged, its reported $2-billion-per-year price tag for the rights is also $500 million more than what DirecTV paid in its final years. All this comes as the tech and streaming industries focus more on profits than growth, so the largesse you might’ve expected from a company like Google is no longer on display here.
Whether it’ll pay off for Google is another matter. With NFL Sunday Ticket, Google is betting it can use bundle discounts to prop up its pay TV package. Even so, the trend in cord-cutting is away from these big bundles and toward cheaper streaming options.
NFL Sunday Ticket was a boon for DirecTV in the satellite service’s early days, but it eventually became an albatross, costing corporate parent AT&T $800 million per year by one estimate. YouTube has indicated it will experiment more with pricing and packaging down the road, perhaps to avoid a similar fate. For now, its motivations look a lot like those of the TV provider it’s replacing.
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