Apple is a favorite for NFL Sunday tickets, but could YouTube TV pick up the win at the last minute?

Talks for the NFL Sunday Ticket sports rights package will likely continue early next year, The New York Times reports.

Although analysts initially predicted that Apple would get the rights, Google has stepped up its efforts in recent months as talks dragged on. A key player in the NFL-Google negotiations is YouTube chief commercial officer Robert Kyncl, who will see a potential deal done ahead of his transfer to Warner Music Group.

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As for Amazon, it has also reportedly bid for Sunday Ticket, but is considered a long shot after shelling out $1 billion a year for the rights to Thursday Night Football, with ratings falling short of pre-season projections.

Earlier this year, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed to CNBC that Sunday Ticket would be moving to a streaming service after a 30-year contract with satellite TV provider DIRECTV.

Sunday Ticket’s eventual media partner might have more skin in the game than DIRECTV. The NFL would bundle equity from other media assets, including NFL Network and NFL RedZone, into the deal, with help from Goldman Sachs.

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Goodell was expected to make an announcement by late fall, but The Times reports that won’t be the case. The NFL and Apple are normally able to work their way through negotiations, which would have stalled conversations.

Sunday Ticket allows football fans to watch all regional NFL games on Sunday afternoons from anywhere in the country. The Sunday Ticket package accelerated DIRECTV’s subscriber growth in the 1990s and still attracts customers to the satellite giant.

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As of the third quarter of 2022, DIRECTV has 13.5 million subscribers. By comparison, YouTube TV has roughly north of 5 million and has credited at least 2 million of its Sunday Ticket subscribers; but the deal is not profitable for the satellite provider.

This is not the first time that Google has made an offer for the rights to Sunday Ticket. Kyncl has an existing business relationship with Brian Rolapp, the NFL’s chief business officer, after unsuccessfully bidding for the rights in 2013.

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