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Will Xbox One Be the Future Home of NFL Sunday Ticket?

The current NFL Sunday Ticket contract with DirecTV is up after the 2014 season and we could see the NFL partner with a new provider (or providers) for it’s popular out-of-market Sunday games package. According to the Hollywood Reporter, DirecTV CEO Pat Doyle says that the Satellite provider would consider either a non-exclusive deal or dropping the NFL Sunday Ticket all together when it comes up for renewal. 

The non-exclusive part is what should excite NFL fans. A non-exclusive deal would (presumedly) mean that the NFL Sunday Ticket would be made available to all cable and satellite providers. It’s also possible Screen Shot 2013-07-01 at 4.27.08 PMthat it would mean NFL Sunday Ticket would be made available to TV connected devices such as Apple TV and Roku.

So, how might the XBox One play in to all of this? Currently, fans who cannot get DirecTV at their home can get the NFL Sunday Ticket on the PS3 and/or online and mobile. It would seem that a logical move would be for Microsoft to make a play to replace the PS3 (and perhaps the PS4 in the future) as the exclusive TV connected device for NFL Sunday Ticket. However, I think that Microsoft may set their sights a bit higher.

Microsoft is clearly targeting more than just gamers with the Xbox One. They very much want to “control the living room” by establishing the XBox as the one device for all your entertainment needs. We also know they recently struck a deal with the NFL that will (among other things) bring additional NFL content such as stats and fantasy info to the live NFL game experience. This will  (presumedly) work by connecting your cable box to the XBox One via HDMI which would allow the XBox to “overlay” additional information onto the screen (stats, fantasy updates, etc).

If Microsoft wishes to make the big splash and gain a giant foothold into the living room with the XBox One, they could put their substantial cash into scoring an exclusive deal the NFL Sunday Ticket. This would mean you’d need to have an XBox One to get the NFL Sunday Ticket, which would get a lot of Xbox One’s into homes that might not have otherwise invested the $499 for the device.

Exclusive content deals are not necessarily in the best interest of fans, but they do generate obscene amounts of money for the NFL. The current NFL Sunday Ticket deal nets the league $1 Billion per year. With the rate that sports programming rights fees are accelerating, it’s not crazy to think that a new exclusive deal could be worth $1.25 Billion, perhaps even $1.5 Billion per year.

NFL Sunday Ticket exclusivity would be a big gamble for Microsoft, but if DirecTV doesn’t re-up, I think it’s a possibility that Microsoft may pursue. This potential opportunity begs the question that Microsoft may ultimately end up asking… Would you pay $499 for an XBox One if it was the only way to get the NFL Sunday Ticket?

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