The opening week of the 2023 NFL season was YouTube‘s first chance to deliver the coveted NFL Sunday Ticket package to football fans. The early reactions to the coverage were mostly positive, with viewers praising YouTube’s stream quality and user experience.
YouTube took over as the official home Sunday Ticket last December, ending DirecTV’s 29-year-run as the package’s distributor. During the most recent offseason, YouTube promoted its $14 billion purchase by bringing some of its top creators to the NFL Draft. As the start of the season approached, fans waited to see whether the YouTube era of Sunday Ticket would live up to the hype.
So far, so good
Leading up to week one of the 2023 NFL season, analysts wondered how YouTube’s servers would deal with the traffic created by millions of Sunday Ticket customers. DirecTV delivered the package via satellite, and some analysts suggested that the switch to streaming would bring delays to YouTube’s NFL coverage.
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In response, YouTube urged Sunday Ticket subscribers to check out its “Stats for Nerds” page for details about stream quality and latency. “Overall, YouTube TV is built on the infrastructure that powers YouTube and reliably serves billions of playbacks every day,” reads a Google statement. “The YouTube TV team is working on building a high-quality Sunday Ticket experience.”
The feared delays turned out to be a nonfactor. YouTube’s streams only lagged about ten seconds behind the live feed. Variety noted that internet-based streams of last year’s Super Bowl featured delays of at least 23 seconds. In comparison, YouTube’s ability to deliver its expensive football package was a smashing success.
Multiview makes its NFL debut
During March Madness season, YouTube TV introduced a multiview option that put four games on the screen at once. A similar feature is available as part of YouTube’s Sunday Ticket interface, and it received plenty of compliments during week one. Jimmy Traina of Sports Illustrated noted that YouTube’s split-screen experience (seen above) is sleeker and less cluttered than DirecTV’s version of the feature.
Some Sunday Ticket subscribers want the ability to customize their own multiview lineups rather than relying on YouTube’s pre-built layouts. But most of those layouts featured the NFL RedZone stream, which helped viewers stay on top of big moments even during an action-packed week.
A streamlined login process and a lack of technical glitches added more enhancements to the Sunday Ticket user experience. As NFL legend and current analyst Steve Smith, Sr. wrote on X, the new home of Sunday Ticket has “elevated” the package overall.
— Steve Smith Sr. (@SteveSmithSr89) September 10, 2023
It’s a long season
Week one went well, but YouTube will need to continue its top-notch work if it wants to justify its seven-year Sunday Ticket deal. That’s where its creator community comes in. Influencers like Deestroying will team up with the stars of the gridiron for polished series that will cement YouTube’s status as the home for regular-season NFL football.
One particular creator will help YouTube bring its first week of Sunday Ticket coverage to a close. Casey Neistat will attend the September 11 game between the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills, which will kickoff the 2023 Monday Night Football slate. According to Bloomberg, Neistat will hunt for a “viral moment” as part of a “Creator of the Week” initiative.
As the season goes on, more creators will get up-close access to NFL action. And thanks to the high quality of YouTube’s streams, those sideline reports will be delivered loud and clear to Sunday Ticket subscribers.