NFL Controversy Creates Dilemma for Companies that Depend on Pro Football

DirecTV’s practice of giving refunds to some NFL Sunday Ticket subscribers upset about players kneeling during the national anthem puts the company at risk of looking as if it’s taking President Trump’s side in the controversy.

The satellite TV service, owned by AT&T, has been the exclusive provider for the NFL Sunday Ticket since 1994. But some NFL fans who subscribed to the $280 per season programming package, which lets viewers watch any game around the league, have contacted DirecTV seeking a refund in response to the NFL players’ protests. DirecTV does not disclose its Sunday Ticket subscriber numbers, but Bloomberg has estimated as many as 10% of the satellite TV provider’s 20.8 million customers subscribe to it.

Last week, Trump criticized the growing protests, saying NFL owners should fire players who do not stand during the national anthem played before kickoff. The protest began last season by then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to bring attention to the oppression of black people by the criminal justice system. His supporters say teams have refused to sign Kaepernick because of his protest.

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