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YouTube snags NFL 'Sunday Ticket' in 7-year deal

The NFL's "Sunday Ticket" package is heading to YouTube TV next season, the league announced Thursday, in a huge get for the Google-owned streaming service.

YouTube will pay approximately $2 billion annually for seven years for the rights to the package, which lets viewers watch out-of-market games, CNBC reports. The service will be available either as an add-on for existing YouTube TV subscribers or as a standalone option through YouTube Primetime Channels.

"For a number of years we have been focused on increased digital distribution of our games and this partnership is yet another example of us looking towards the future and building the next generation of NFL fans," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in the announcement. 

DirecTV has owned the rights to "Sunday Ticket" since the offering's inception in 1994, but declined to place a bid when its contract was most recently up for renewal. With this YouTube deal, the NFL has now "divvied up rights among Big Tech," with YouTube on Sundays and Amazon on Thursdays, notes Chris Welch at The Verge. That said, DirecTV might still be involved in the process in some way so as to offer games to bars and restaurants.

Pricing plans aren't yet available but a basic YouTube TV package currently costs $65 a month, per Bloomberg

For YouTube, who at the very least beat out Apple in the war for rights, Welch sees the deal as a huge win: "In one fell swoop, Google has solidified YouTube as a vital destination for NFL fans. And it has resoundingly committed to a long-term future for YouTube TV, which has over 5 million customers," he said. And for the NFL, a concerted pivot to streaming gives the league a chance to meet cord-cutters (and Gen Z) where they are, adds Bloomberg.