NFL, RedBird’s EverPass lines up Sunday tickets at bars, restaurants

Football fans watch the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII game between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks at a sports bar in New Jersey on February 2, 2014.

Cem Ozdel Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

A satellite dish is no longer the only way bars and restaurants can broadcast the National Football League’s Sunday Ticket package of games.

EverPass Media, the joint venture between the league and private equity firm RedBird Capital Partners that owns the commercial rights to Sunday Ticket, has acquired UPshow, a platform with the technology capabilities to allow commercial establishments to broadcast live sports. Terms of the deal were undisclosed.

With this purchase, bars, restaurants, casinos and other businesses will be able to broadcast Sunday Ticket games. Until recently, they could only do so through a subscription to satellite TV provider DirecTV.

However, DirecTV will remain as a distributor to bars and restaurants. EverPass signed a non-exclusive deal with DirecTV last year to continue distributing Sunday Ticket games, giving it the ability to strike deals with other distribution platforms.

“More content is moving to streaming. Regardless of the economics of streaming, it’s become pretty clear that live sports is an important part of that,” said EverPass CEO Alex Kaplan. “We’re going to think about how to deliver a product and service to our customers that is becoming more and more challenging for them to aggregate in a meaningful way. We’re still in the early days … but that’s one thing big step for us”.

The new distribution option will be available this upcoming NFL season.

The acquisition for EverPass comes as more live sports games are being offered exclusively on streaming services — a new frontier for businesses that have long subscribed to traditional pay TV packages to offer live sports.

Sunday Ticket is an integral sports package for bars and restaurants as it offers all out-of-market NFL games.

At the end of 2022, Google’YouTube TV acquired the residential rights to “Sunday Ticket” for approximately $2 billion annually, a deal that spans over seven years. DirecTV had been the owner and exclusive residential and commercial distributor of the games since the launch of the package in 1994.

This followed an agreement to Amazon’Prime Video will become the exclusive home of Thursday Night Football — part of the NFL’s 11-year media rights deal worth more than $100 billion.

Since then, media rights owners of NFL games have begun offering games simultaneously on their streaming services — and in some cases exclusively. Earlier this year Comcast‘s NBCUniversal aired an NFL wild-card game on the Peacock, the first time a postseason game was offered exclusively via broadcast. Netflix also recently won the rights to broadcast two NFL games on Christmas this year, and at least one on the holiday in the next two years.

New investor, new opportunities

The New York Stock Exchange welcomes the executives and board members of TKO (NYSE: TKO). To honor the occasion, TKO management and board members, joined by Lynn Martin, NYSE President, ring The Opening Bell®.

EverPass also brought on a new investor this week.

The joint venture announced that TKO — the newly merged company that combines the Ultimate Fighting Championship and World Wrestling Entertainment — will enter the ownership group. TKO is majority owned by Endeavor Group Holdings.

“Now with RedBird, the NFL and TKO behind us, we think we have the tools to put even more behind this technology,” Kaplan said.

EverPass is also looking to become a distributor for content other than Sunday Ticket and the NFL.

“We’re out there looking for new content, and we certainly think they have great content, and we expect those to be discussions we have in the near future,” Kaplan said of whether EverPass will distribute TKO’s WWE or UFC. “Overall, we feel very good about our content line.”

The company first teamed up with UPshow when it started providing Peacock Sports Pass, which is a way for commercial establishments to stream some of the sports live on NBCUniversal’s streaming platform, including the NFL, Premier League and college football.

The price for the Peacock Sports Pass, similar to the future distribution of “Sunday Tickets”, depends on the classification of the commercial enterprise, according to the company’s website.

In addition, the acquisition of UPshow will give EverPass the opportunity to explore distribution globally at a time when leagues such as the NFL, the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball are pushing into international markets.

“Technology transcends borders. So suddenly we actually have the ability to go international,” said Derek Chang, executive chairman of EverPass. “And then the Endeavor/TKO investment, which obviously has tremendous reach globally in terms of relationships.”

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC.

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