Riding NFL Sunday Ticket Momentum, Google Is “Closely Looking At” Expanding YouTube TV Beyond U.S., Senior Exec Says

Google execs are actively considering an international expansion of pay-TV service YouTube TV, Chief Business Officer Philipp Schindler said during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call.

“It is something we are closely looking at,” Schindler said. “There’s nothing specific I have to add at this moment in time on this one.”

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Schindler and CEO Sundar Pichai both took note of highlights for YouTube TV in the quarter, notably the debut of NFL Sunday Ticket as an exclusive offering after 29 years on DirecTV. The premium package is available either as an add-on for YouTube TV subscribers or as a stand-alone offering through YouTube’s channel store.

“YouTube TV is doing well,” Pichai said. “They’ve had great consumer feedback on the experience.” NFL Sunday Ticket “has found its perfect home on YouTube,” he added.

YouTube landed Sunday Ticket a little more than a year ago, paying more than $2 billion a season in a 7-year deal. The agreement was one of several recent milestones in the migration of live sports from linear TV to streaming.

The executive comments followed the release of Google parent Alphabet’s fourth-quarter earnings results. Despite a 15% surge in advertising revenue at YouTube, overall quarterly numbers were viewed as slightly disappointing by the Street, pushing Alphabet shares down 5% in after-hours trading.

Google has not disclosed official numbers for YouTube TV since mid-2022, when it said the service had surpassed 5 million subscribers. More recently, analysts have pegged the current number at north of 6 million. That not only makes YouTube TV the top internet-delivered pay-TV package in the U.S. marketplace, but it is on a pace to equal traditional cable and satellite footprints in the coming years as most incumbents continue to bleed subscribers.

The arrival of Sunday Ticket last fall drove 1.3 million new signups to the package via YouTube TV, according to research firm Antenna. Google itself has acknowledged the pay-TV service got a boost but it has not disclosed any specific figures.

From the NFL’s point of view, aligning with a deep-pocketed global tech player was a priority when it shopped rights to Sunday Ticket. The league has ramped up its international presence, playing regular-season games in sites like Mexico, London and Germany in recent seasons, with more territories in the offing and more net games taking place outside the U.S. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told NBC in an interview last September that the league sees the rest of the world as “our next big frontier.”

Schindler said formalizing a relationship with the NFL in 2023 boosted results in the company’s overall advertising efforts. He said more than 90 upfront and scatter advertisers bought in-game ad inventory on Sunday Ticket, a brand population that includes both “new and existing” buyers.

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