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Photo: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

AT&T COO John Stankey said that the telecom giant would consider dropping its exclusive rights to the NFL's Sunday Ticket package from its DirecTV satellite service in a Wall Street Journal interview.

Why it matters: The package features most Sunday NFL games — some of the most popular programming on television — and the deal has long been a cornerstone for DirecTV.

  • "There’s less profitability to support the decision" to offer Sunday Ticket, Stankey said in the interview. "It becomes less critical to the business over time."
  • According to the Journal, AT&T is paying $1.5 billion annually for the Sunday Ticket rights. Its exclusive package expires in 2022.
  • Stankey's statement doesn't come as a total surprise. In an interview with Recode in February, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson alluded to the fact that the NFL was less invested in the fan experience than other sports.

The state of play: AT&T is under pressure from investors to divest DirecTV, which it acquired for $65 billion in 2015, because the business is struggling as more people ditch traditional television packages for digital alternatives.

  • Rumors have circulated over the past two weeks that AT&T is considering dropping the service, which the telecom giant has denied.

The big picture: Sports rights are coveted entities in the the television business, as they make up one of the only types of content that viewers still consume live. Leagues have developed a great deal of leverage over TV networks to charge for the rights to distribute their live content.

Our thought bubble: If AT&T is considering dropping its live TV business, then it makes sense that they wouldn't want to pay big bucks to renew the NFL contract.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Health

Ipsos poll: COVID trick-or-treat

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note ±3.3% margin of error for the total sample size; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

About half of Americans are worried that trick-or-treating will spread coronavirus in their communities, according to this week's installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: This may seem like more evidence that the pandemic is curbing our nation's cherished pastimes. But a closer look reveals something more nuanced about Americans' increased acceptance for risk around activities in which they want to participate.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: The good and bad news about antibody therapies — Fauci: Hotspots have materialized across "the entire country."
  2. World: Belgium imposes lockdown, citing "health emergency" due to influx of cases.
  3. Economy: Conference Board predicts economy won’t fully recover until late 2021.
  4. Education: Surge threatens to shut classrooms down again.
  5. Technology: The pandemic isn't slowing tech.
  6. Travel: CDC replaces COVID-19 cruise ban with less restrictive "conditional sailing order."
  7. Sports: High school football's pandemic struggles.
  8. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.
Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Updated 10 hours ago - Economy & Business

Dunkin' Brands agrees to $11B Inspire Brands sale

Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Dunkin' Brands, operator of both Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins, agreed on Friday to be taken private for nearly $11.3 billion, including debt, by Inspire Brands, a restaurant platform sponsored by private equity firm Roark Capital.

Why it matters: Buying Dunkin’ will more than double Inspire’s footprint, making it one of the biggest restaurant deals in the past 10 years. This could ultimately set up an IPO for Inspire, which already owns Arby's, Jimmy John's and Buffalo Wild Wings.