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AT&T could offer Sunday Ticket to wireless customers

Cleveland Browns v Denver Broncos

DENVER - SEPTEMBER 20: A detail of the NFL logo on painted on the sideline grass as the Cleveland Browns face the Denver Broncos during NFL action at Invesco Field at Mile High on September 20, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Browns 27-6. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

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The NFL Sunday Ticket package is only available to DirecTV subscribers, meaning millions of fans who don’t have the ability to put a satellite dish on their roofs are shut out. But that could change if AT&T succeeds in its attempt to purchase DirecTV.

The Wall Street Journal reports that AT&T is floating the possibility of offering Sunday Ticket to all its wireless phone customers.

That would be great news for football fans who don’t have DirecTV but do have AT&T, and it would make the Sunday Ticket package even more valuable. But by even discussing this possibility, AT&T may be putting the cart before the horse: The NFL hasn’t even agreed to renew the Sunday Ticket package with DirecTV, with or without the possibility of also making it available to AT&T wireless customers. And Verizon, which is both a partner of the NFL’s and AT&T’s biggest competitor, would probably have some objections to AT&T customers getting NFL games that Verizon customers don’t get.

More than anything, the fact that AT&T is discussing this idea is an indication of the power of the NFL. This year’s Fortune 500 listed AT&T as the No. 11 company in America, and DirecTV at No. 98, and the NFL is so important that if it doesn’t re-up with DirecTV for Sunday Ticket, the whole deal could fall apart. Exclusive access to Sunday afternoon NFL games is enormously valuable -- so valuable that it could be one of the central pieces of a deal worth nearly $50 billion.