Man, all kinds of good news about the NFL lockout just keeps landing in our laps today. First, secret meeting among owners turned into secret meetings among owners and players before turning into actual "settlement" talks. Now comes word from our corporate masters at DirecTV that they will not charge subscribers for the Sunday Ticket package until the lockout is resolved.
Sunday Ticket costs more than $300 bones. That service is popular enough to give the NFL a $1 billion contract with DirecTV, about 40 percent of which the league would not have to repay in case of a lockout.
Okay, but enough about the lockout. To me, the popularity of DirecTV Sunday Ticket is part of a larger conundrum facing NFL owners as they seek more money for stadiums. Fans have less and less incentive to actually spend the hundreds of dollars or so to go to games when they can watch it in Hi-Def in the comfort of their homes with all the friends and family and beer they care to consume. Ditto with the Red Zone channel, where you can just get the highlights. Besides, it's hard to see the action on the field from the upper deck compared to every bloody detail you get in HD.
Here's another issue to throw out at you, and I won't jump too far into it since I'm about a third of the way through a good box of wine (yeah, so, it's in a box). At what point will the NFL let go of its reticence to make games available via streaming service? MLB's efforts on this front have been hugely successful with fans, not to mention profitable. However, MLB doesn't depend on national TV contracts, companies that are still trying to figure out the digital revenue model and harboring a great fear of online content. Hell, the NFL doesn't even allow video clips to be embedded, even for their glorified advertisement content, much less game highlights. At some point, they'll have to figure out something, lest the last two people in the world figure out how to watch games on those, ahem, gray area streaming sites that nobody at TST uses.
On another optimistic note, not charging for Sunday Ticket until the lockout gets fixed is probably a good sign that the execs think this thing is going to get resolved.