YouTube $14bn NFL deal signals new phase in battle for live sports rights

Google-owned YouTube has become that latest big tech company to make a major incursion into the live sports business. Following recent landmark deals by Amazon and Apple, the streaming platform has signed a $14bn, seven-year deal to secure control of US rights to the NFL’s Sunday ticket – held by DirecTV since 1994. Until news of the deal broke in December, Apple had been considered the front-runner.

Under the terms of the deal, NFL will be available on YouTube TV and YouTube Primetime Channels – both of which are subscription services. The partnership represents a significant moment both for the platform and the sports right sector.

Susan Wojcicki

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said: “YouTube has long been a home for football fans, whether they’re streaming live games, keeping up with their home team, or watching the best plays in highlights. Through this expanded partnership with the NFL, viewers will now also be able to experience the game they love in compelling and innovative ways through YouTube TV or YouTube Primetime Channels.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell added: “For a number of years we have been focused on increased digital distribution of our games and this partnership is another example of us looking towards the future and building the next generation of NFL fans.”

The big question now is whether YouTube will expand its interest in sports rights to the international market. If so, it will represent an intriguing new opportunity for leading rights holders, but an additional challenge for platforms like Sky and Viaplay.

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