Is YouTube prioritizing NFL Sunday Ticket improvements over NBA rights acquisition?

YouTube CEO Neal Mohan revealed that the company is currently placing more emphasis on improving its latest sports experience, NFL Sunday Ticket, rather than actively pursuing NBA rights. Mohan stated that NBA rights acquisition is not a priority in the near future, although he did not completely rule out the possibility of a potential bid. Currently, domestic rights for NBA games are shared by Disney/ESPN and Warner Bros. Discovery. However, with the recent entry of live sports streaming giants and the increasing presence of Big Tech, questions have arisen regarding the future rights arrangement. Traditional media companies, struggling with the decline of pay-TV bundles, advertising downturn, and the costs associated with bolstering their direct-to-consumer streaming services, have faced further challenges.

During Bloomberg’s Screentime event in LA, Mohan expressed the company’s focus on perfecting the NFL Sunday Ticket. He emphasized the importance of optimizing the viewer experience and ensuring a flawless and seamless game-day experience on Sundays. Mohan also added that YouTube intends to deliver further innovation in terms of products and creator integrations, catering to the expectations of their fans, especially the younger audience who are avid NFL enthusiasts on YouTube.

Mohan acknowledged that the NBA has been operating one of YouTube’s most popular channels for an extended period. However, he made it clear that the current focus of YouTube is primarily on the NFL and enhancing the associated experience for viewers.

When questioned about the initial subscriber numbers for Sunday Ticket, which was previously exclusively available on DirecTV for 29 years before YouTube’s $14 billion acquisition for a seven-year deal, Mohan refrained from providing specific figures. Nevertheless, he expressed satisfaction with the initial progress of Sunday Ticket and emphasized its purpose of serving millions of sports fans on the YouTube platform.

The discussion also touched on the topic of YouTube Shorts. Mohan responded to concerns raised by creators and general YouTube users, who felt that the new platform was being forced upon them. He highlighted that Shorts has garnered 70 billion daily views, a significant increase from 50 billion in January. According to Mohan, these numbers indicate that viewers are actively engaging with Shorts.