The American National Football League has agreed to $8 billion in contract extensions with CBS and Fox and signed a $3.5 billion deal with DIRECTV. Both contracts include provision for enhanced and interactive coverage, which will become central to the DIRECTV satellite offering.
The NFL has agreed to six-year extensions of its Sunday afternoon television packages with CBS and FOX that will keep NFL Sunday afternoon games on free, over-the-air television and also allow both networks to broadcast two Super Bowls each.
The agreements also include a commitment to phase in high-definition coverage for all games and to introduce new interactive elements. “The commitment to high-definition production plus new enhanced and interactive elements will take our Sunday afternoon telecasts to the next level,” said NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.
DIRECTV also extended its deal with the league for its Sunday Ticket package until 2010. “Our DIRECTV partnership complements and supports our broadcast television packages,” said Tagliabue.
The satellite television operator will pay $3.5 billion for the five-year extension. The new agreement gives DIRECTV the right to develop and expand its NFL Sunday Ticket package, as well as introduce new features, interactive services and expanded programming for subscribers.
“NFL Sunday Ticket, which has been a cornerstone of our success, is the most distinguishing and important programming service available on DIRECTV, and we are thrilled to extend and expand our long-standing partnership with the NFL,” said Chase Carey, president and chief executive of DIRECTV.
“As an exclusive programming package, NFL Sunday Ticket has helped define us as a leader in multichannel television. With the enhancements that we will make to NFL Sunday Ticket we will recreate the NFL viewing experience – an experience that only DIRECTV, not cable or other competitors, will be able to offer sports fans.”
Subscribers will have access to new interactive services including alternative camera angles and replays. DIRECTV plans to provide a mosaic channel that will show multiple games on one screen, making it easier for a viewer to select which game to watch. The company will also have the right to distribute a fantasy football show with NFL footage each season, as well as create virtual interactive game elements that would allow viewers to play along with a game using an interactive screen overlay.
Customers with a digital video recorder will also be able to receive additional NFL material downloaded to their hard drives.
DIRECTV will have access to, and plans to distribute, games produced in high-definition format, in addition to the standard-definition productions. The satellite television operator will also have the right to provide remote access to NFL Sunday Ticket games and content subscribers via broadband or wireless devices.
Under the agreement, DIRECTV will for the first time also be able to develop and distribute enhanced and exclusive versions of NFL postseason games, including the Super Bowl.