YouTube Reaches Deal for N.F.L Sunday Ticket

The Sunday Ticket package could prove to be a boon to YouTube, which has been keen to expand its subscriptions as its main business — advertising — has stalled. Football games could draw more sports fans to YouTube TV, which is already the most popular internet-based pay TV service. The company said in July that it had five million subscribers, surpassing Hulu + Live TV.

YouTube gets the bulk of its revenue from advertising on videos uploaded by users. Stubborn inflation and a slowing economy have prompted advertisers to pull back spending, causing YouTube’s ad sales to contract by almost 2 percent in the past quarter, Google’s parent company, Alphabet, reported in October.

The disappointing results have given more urgency to a yearslong plan for YouTube to expand in other ways. The company said in November that it had 80 million paying subscribers for its music and ad-free premium services, up from 50 million a year earlier.

The deal culminates years of industry speculation over who would land the coveted package of games that began in 2019 when John Stankey, then the chief operating officer of DirecTV’s former owner, AT&T, said the company was rethinking its deal for Sunday Ticket.

It became clearer that the package would go to a tech company in July, when Mr. Goodell, the N.F.L. commissioner, said in an interview that a streaming service would be “best for consumers.” Apple, Amazon and YouTube emerged as the likeliest candidates, and all three companies vied for the rights.

Recently, Apple — which was long considered the front-runner — decided to drop its pursuit. As the negotiations stretched on, Apple became skeptical that the Sunday Ticket package was worth what the N.F.L. was seeking and ended serious conversations about a potential deal, a person with knowledge of the deal said.

Apple instead homed its focus on completing a deal to sponsor the halftime show for the 2023 Super Bowl, which it believes will raise the profile of its Apple Music service.

Tripp Mickle contributed reporting.


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