DirecTV Believes Lower Cost Will See Higher 'Sunday Ticket' Returns

Sundayticket-Direct-TV

A rare opportunity to receive DirecTV's "Sunday Ticket" may be the only aspect of NFL programming where the costs could be coming down. CFO Patrick Doyle indicated that the satellite operator may cut the price next fall -- an opportunity for people who can't get DirecTV to still access "Sunday Ticket" online and on-mobile.

The nonsubscriber version of "NFL Sunday Ticket To-Go" was tested last fall in Manhattan, an area with thousands of apartments and other dwellings, but where DirecTV signals are blocked. Cable customers and even cord-cutters able to prove DirecTV signals couldn't make it to their homes suddenly could use broadband to get the package with all out-of-market NFL games each Sunday.

But despite some marketing, Doyle said that in Manhattan, it "didn't resonate very well. But in my mind, it was more of the price that we charged." The cost was about on par with what a DirecTV customer was paying for the traditional "Sunday Ticket" on their TV sets.

Still, the technology apparently worked. DirecTV has rolled out the broadband and wireless -- including iPad - access nationally this fall for $350.

But again, Doyle expects a modest update. DirecTV subscribers pay $320 for "Sunday Ticket" for their TV and $50 more if they want additional access on a computer or on the go.

Speaking last week at an investor event, Doyle indicated that other priorities got in the way of DirecTV launching a major marketing effort behind the "nonsubscriber" opportunity this fall. But it expects to next year, and perhaps cut the price.

"Probably going to need to do some things with pricing, and we'll do some research on price sensitivity there," he said. "But I think it's a good product if it's priced right."

Potential customers include college students in dorms; urban dwellers where landlords don't allow dishes on balconies; and cable customers whose homes "don't have a southern view and can't get us," Doyle said.

"We just need to find the right balance between pricing and how we market it and tout the benefits of it. Again this (fall) will be another modest year, where we'll really do more testing than full-blown launch," he said.

One issue could be the difficulty in signing up, which apparently can only be done online and not over the phone.

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