Football fans, start saving those pennies. YouTube just announced pricing for its new Sunday Ticket package, and access to this season’s games will cost anywhere from $249 to $489.
The pricing structure is... confusing. So let’s just quickly run it down.
If you’re a YouTube TV subscriber, you’ll pay:
- $249 for the basic season-long package of out-of-market games if you sign up during the presale that starts today and ends June 6th.
- $289 if you also want the RedZone channel. (Which you should. RedZone is awesome.)
- $349 for the basic package if you miss the presale.
- $389 for the package including RedZone if you miss the presale.
- You can also get just RedZone through YouTube TV by purchasing the Sports Plus add-on for $10.99 a month.
If you’re subscribing through YouTube’s Primetime Channels feature instead, you’ll pay:
- $349 for the base package if you get in during the presale.
- $389 for the package with RedZone during the presale.
- $449 for the base package after the presale ends.
- $489 for the full package post-presale.
Subscribing through YouTube TV is clearly the better deal here, but that obviously also requires ponying up the $72.99 subscription fee for the company’s live TV system. Any way you slice it, it’s expensive.
But of course it’s expensive! YouTube is paying a reported $2 billion a year for this package, after a hotly contested battle with Apple and others to win the rights. This is a statement move for YouTube as it continues to try and become a traditional entertainment giant. Some people hoped that YouTube might offer an artificially low price in order to bring more users into its orbit, but that was always pretty unlikely. A $2 billion growth hack won’t get you very far.
It’s expensive — but Sunday Ticket has always been expensive
The price is also fairly close to what Sunday Ticket has cost in the past. Last year, when the package was distributed by DirecTV, the base Sunday Ticket package cost $293.94, and the Max Plan — which included the RedZone channel and a DirecTV-made Fantasy Zone channel — was $395.99 for the season. (It was also estimated that DirecTV was losing about $500 million a year on the package. DirecTV’s biggest problem last year wasn’t the price, though; it was that it just simply could not keep its streams up and running. And when you’re paying nearly $100 a month to watch football one day a week, constant service interruptions are a bit of a nonstarter.
There may be more ways to slice this package over time, too. “We’re partnering with the NFL to look at different types of packages,” says Christian Oestlien, a VP of product management at YouTube. “We might offer mid-season, late-season — we’re just kicking off that research as well.” The partnership with the NFL is a long-term one, he says, and what you see in Sunday Ticket this year won’t be how it works forever.
YouTube is also building some platform-specific features for football, including a way to watch multiple games at once, tools for buying team merch, and YouTube-y things like live chat and polls. If you subscribe through Primetime Channels, you’ll see live games in your YouTube feed, and there will be highlights and fantasy data all over the platform. Given that DirecTV carried Sunday Ticket from 1994 to 2022, there haven’t been many (or any) chances to rethink the package. And there’s a lot YouTube could do over time.
The first job, though, is just to stream the game without weirdness or interruptions. (“You’d be surprised — that’s a simple statement, but there’s a lot that goes into that,” Oestlien says.) Amazon took a while to figure out its Thursday Night Football strategy, Apple’s initial forays into MLB broadcasts were kind of a mess, and YouTube has really never done anything like this before. If YouTube can get it right, it can infuse football all over its platform and do things for NFL viewers that no traditional cable company ever could. But first, it just has to stream football perfectly to a lot of people paying a lot of money to watch the Packers lose from thousands of miles away. That’s not a small task.