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Expand chart
Reproduced from GroupM; Note: Includes properties with annual media rights over $500m and individual deals over $200m; Chart: Axios Visuals

After tomorrow's Super Bowl, the NFL will officially be able to exercise its option to exit from its current NFL Sunday Ticket deal with DirecTV, starting with the 2020 season.

Why it matters: If it does, it's expected to open the floodgates for new and bigger bids, serving as a litmus test for how much Big Tech is willing to spend to meaningfully get enter the sports streaming market.

The big picture: Years ago, the NFL turned down the highest bidder — Google-owned YouTube.

  • Thanks to their massive audiences, TV networks have secured exclusive sports rights for decades. YouTube simply didn't have the same reach.
  • The league may be more incentivized this time around to distribute the programming to tech platforms, which have growing audiences and appeal to younger sports fans.
  • And it will be the biggest sign yet of how much Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook are willing to invest in the sports streaming business, said BTIG media analyst and managing partner Rich Greenfield.

Tech companies have won several big-ticket rights to streaming platforms over the past few years, although leagues have been reluctant to pull rights from live networks.

  • Twitter: A multi-year NBA deal to livestream single-player feeds, a three-year MLS deal for weekly games on Twitter on Saturdays, a one-year NFL deal to stream Thursday games in 2017, a multi-year PGA deal to stream free tournaments.
  • Facebook: A MLS deal to exclusively stream 2017 regular season matches in English, an MLB deal to exclusively stream 25 games in 2017, a WWE deal to stream matches for 12 weeks on Facebook Watch.
  • Amazon: A two-year NFL deal to stream Thursday Night Football games to Prime members and Twitch users, a one-year English Premier League soccer deal to stream 20 matches.
  • YouTube: Two MLS deals brokered with the Los Angeles Football Club and the Seattle Sounders, to stream a handful of their games exclusively.

Yes, but: These rights are still considered small-ball. Most of the biggest games are up for renegotiation over the next few years.

What to watch: Disney needs to divest the 22 regional sports networks it got through its acquisition of most of Fox's assets. A bidding war is expected, but Fox may have to buy them back.

Go deeper

Buffett eyes slow U.S. progress, but says "never bet against America"

Warren Buffett in New York City in 2017. Photo: Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage

Warren Buffett called progress in America "slow, uneven and often discouraging," but retained his long-term optimism in the country, in his closely watched annual shareholder letter released Saturday morning.

Why it matters: It breaks months of uncharacteristic silence from the 90-year-old billionaire Berkshire Hathaway CEO — as the fragile economy coped with the pandemic and the U.S. saw a contentious presidential election.

Restaurant software meets the pandemic moment

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Food delivery companies have predictably done well during the pandemic. But restaurant software providers are also having a moment as eateries race to handle the avalanche of online orders resulting from severe in-person dining restrictions.

Driving the news: Olo filed last week for an IPO and Toast is rumored to be preparing to do the same very soon.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
2 hours ago - Technology

How the automation economy can turn human workers into robots

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

More than outright destroying jobs, automation is changing employment in ways that will weigh on workers.

The big picture: Right now, we should be less worried about robots taking human jobs than people in low-skilled positions being forced to work like robots.

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