YouTube Will Stream NFL Sunday Ticket Starting in 2023

Google has won the bidding war for the NFL's out-of-market games.

Eli Blumenthal Senior Editor
Eli Blumenthal is a senior editor at CNET with a particular focus on covering the latest in the ever-changing worlds of telecom, streaming and sports. He previously worked as a technology reporter at USA Today.
Expertise 5G, mobile networks, wireless carriers, phones, tablets, streaming devices, streaming platforms, mobile and console gaming,
Eli Blumenthal
3 min read
An NFL game being watched on an iPhone
Sarah Tew/CNET

Google's sports streaming ambitions are getting a big boost. Starting with the 2023 NFL season, the company's streaming TV subscriptions YouTube TV and YouTube Primetime Channels will be the new home for NFL Sunday Ticket in the US. After reports of a pact circulated Tuesday night, the league and Google announced Thursday that the search giant's massive video arm will be the exclusive provider to watch out-of-market NFL games, beginning next year. 

YouTube didn't detail pricing for Sunday Ticket yet. 

Google takes over the Sunday Ticket package from DirecTV, which had an exclusive deal for the package since 1994. In recent years, the satellite provider paid the league over $1.5 billion annually for Sunday Ticket, often using the NFL games as a way to lure and retain subscribers. Now Google, with Sunday Ticket, is aiming to do the same for YouTube TV, its $65-per-month live-channel TV service, and YouTube Primetime Channels, subscriptions that you pay for and watch through your regular YouTube account. 

Read more: 8 Things Football Fans Need To Know About YouTube's Sunday Ticket Deal

Under the deal, the Sunday Ticket package will be available to stream as an add-on either through YouTube TV or YouTube Primetime Channels, which launched in November with subscriptions to providers like Starz, Showtime and Paramount Plus. Under Primetime Channels, you will be able to sign up for Sunday Ticket on its own, without needing to shell out for YouTube TV. 

Sunday Ticket will remain a DirecTV exclusive for the remainder of the 2022 NFL regular season. 

The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that Google's deal with the NFL will see the tech giant pay the league "roughly" $2 billion a year for seven years, though it added that this cost could rise "if certain benchmarks are reached." 

These rights are just for residential streams, with the NFL and YouTube saying in their joint press release that they "will work together to determine additional ways to support distribution of NFL Sunday Ticket in commercial establishments such as bars and restaurants." 

Although Amazon streams Thursday Night Football, it has a deal with DirecTV that allows the satellite provider to offer these football telecasts in bars and restaurants. Amazon is said to be paying the NFL $1 billion per year to be the exclusive home for Thursday Night Football games this fall and for the next decade. 

Unlike the Amazon deal, which streams its games on Amazon-owned Prime Video and Twitch platforms, Sunday Ticket does not stop you from watching your local CBS or Fox Sunday broadcasts on TV. 

Like DirecTV, YouTube TV is a live television service and offers all the major local channels including ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC, as well as the NFL Network. While Sunday Ticket on YouTube TV won't let you get the games that air on streaming services like Amazon or ESPN Plus, it could make Google's television service the go-to destination for those looking to stream nearly all the NFL action in the years ahead.

It's unclear what Google might charge for Sunday Ticket. For a full season, DirecTV has previously priced the service at roughly $300 for the base Sunday Ticket package, or $400 for a "Max" version that included extra channels such as a DirecTV-exclusive version of NFL RedZone. 

YouTube TV currently makes the NFL Network's very similar version of RedZone available as an add-on for an extra $11 per month. 

The NFL partnership is Google's latest expansion into professional sports. Google has previously had exclusive streams of regular-season Wednesday MLB games available for free on YouTube. YouTube TV, meanwhile, has been featured as a title sponsor for major sporting events like the World Series and NBA Finals. It also has said it plans to make the NBA's out-of-market League Pass service available on YouTube Primetime Channels.