For the first time in nearly three decades, football fans are about to run the NFL Sunday Ticket in a new location. The Sunday Ticket, which broadcasts out-of-market games to fans willing to shell out a few hundred dollars a season to see games that wouldn’t otherwise be on TV, was a DirecTV product from its launch in 1994 until this year, when YouTube’s decline was reported. Dropping $2 billion a year for the rights. You can now subscribe to Sunday Ticket via YouTube or YouTube TV starting at $350 for the season, with games starting this weekend.
When I ask Christian Ostlin, YouTube’s Vice President of Product Management, what to expect from YouTube’s first season as the official home of Sunday Ticket, I expect him to say what everyone always says in this situation: We started small, we want to get the basics right, spoiling Everyone’s football watching experience is the worst thing you can do, bla bla bla customer experience. And he says all that, but he doesn’t actually seem worried about it. It reminds me that YouTube has been broadcasting football matches for years via YouTube TV. “It’s a sporty package at its core, its core,” he says that It is the NFL.
That’s why YouTube is perhaps a bit more ambitious than expected this season. There will be live chat and polls alongside the games, and there will be in-game content creators across the country creating their own content about and around the game on the pitch. “We knew from the start that we wanted to make this feel like a YouTube experience,” says Ostlin. “This was really important to us.”
There are a lot of other things you can do on Sunday Ticket beyond just watching the matches. Each game will include a real-time highlight available through Shorts, for example, so you can catch up on what you missed before jumping into the live action. If you play fantasy football through the official NFL app, you can link your account and track your players as you watch. With fantasy and betting in general dominating the world of sports, YouTube is likely to be in the running. “I think we can do more there,” Ostlin says. “We’ll do a lot more with that.”
Multiview is the main feature of Sunday Ticket this year
But YouTube’s real opportunity to shine in its first year of Sunday Ticket is a simple one: letting people watch multiple games at the same time. “In my 20 years of product management, I don’t think I’ve ever seen an experience with as much popular demand as Multiview when we introduced it,” says Ostlin. The company first piloted the multiplayer during this year’s March Madness basketball tournament, and it’s expected to be a big part of Sunday Ticket. “In the first year, what we really focus on is making sure we’re given as much choice as possible,” Ostlin says. Right now, that’s not much of an option: Sunday Ticket viewers will be able to watch two, three or four games at a time, but YouTube will pick the games. Ostlin seemed to notice my face upon hearing this news and quickly adds: “Our hope is that over time, users can start thinking about how they can customize multiple views.”
The package is called Sunday Pass, but it looks like YouTube’s greatest opportunity might be the other six days of the week. On Mondays, Ostlin says, subscribers will be able to watch condensed versions of matches that are essentially all back-to-back matches — the average three-hour soccer game only has about 11 minutes of action, so you’ll be able to watch the entire weekend in just a few minutes. hours.
This designated Creator of the Week will also have access to games, pitches, picks, and more, and they’re supposed to post a lot of content during and after Football Sundays. What could it look like? Oestlien mentions a video made by YouTuber Deestroying, who got a lot of access to the NFL Draft, and an interview with Commissioner Roger Goodell. He made a fun video – and it serves as a very good ad for your Sunday ticket.
Oestlien also mentions podcasters, many of whom are increasingly active on YouTube, as a group that could benefit from more access to NFL content. “They really carry your relationship with football from Monday to Thursday, when it all starts again.”
Part of the general idea is to give creators more ways to share the football experience than you would normally see on TV. “I think the first season is going to be about the backdoor, the on-court experience and the locker room,” says Ostlin. “I think the creators will do a masterful job of bringing the fans to life.” At least initially, he says, don’t expect big changes in how games at the stadium are packaged and broadcast on TV. Just expect new ideas about what you can do in football match.
Perhaps the best way to think about what this could amount to is that the $2 billion that YouTube makes annually doesn’t just buy soccer games. He buys content. What if content creators could access, remix and create football videos – highlights, funny sidekicks, announcer fouls, touchdown dances – the same way they can with music? Over the years, the NFL and other leagues have become more lenient about how their footage is used across the web, but the NFL could be the first to embrace it as part of the platform’s creative infrastructure.
I put this theory to Ostlin, and he smiled. He says, “I see.” “I mean, look. That’s one year. But the NFL has been incredibly engaged with our community of creators. For the NFL, the opportunity is all about reach: The league is looking for ways to get new fans and viewers — and experimenting with new ways of doing That’s why MrBeast helped lead the search for Super Bowl tickets and why the NFL copied Driving to survive formula and made a show on Netflix called quarterback. The league once grew exponentially in tandem with the advent of broadcast television and it now appears that it wants to do the same with broadcasting in a very different way. And for YouTube, of course, that means unrestricted access to the most popular content in the world of entertainment.
So what does it all mean for this year? After all, if all you care about is watching the matches, then the Sunday Ticket should feel like the Sunday Ticket. (Only with comments.) But if you’re on YouTube in the next few months, you’ll see more football-related content than ever before, all in the hope that something will encourage you to click through and watch a match. Then like, then – and this part is important because $2 billion is a lot of money – subscribe.