Dish Network recently announced that it could potentially make a bid for exclusive rights to the coveted NFL Sunday Ticket contract, in the the event that rival DirecTV is unable to renew its $4 billion agreement with the league. If Dish were to acquire the contract, it could potentially upset the proposed $48.5 billion acquisition of DirecTV by telecommunications powerhouse AT&T.
Senior vice president of product management for Dish, Vivek Khemka, told Bloomberg that NFL Sunday Ticket is “the only exclusive still left for TV content,” adding that he’d “be an idiot to say I didn’t want it.” DirecTV has been the only service to offer the lucrative Sunday Ticket package, and has done so since 1994. But after almost 20 years, the deal is finally expiring at the end of 2014.
As we reported back in May, DirecTV’s negotiations to renew the contract have implications that extend beyond the immediate players. Within the official SEC filing for AT&T’s staggering multi-billion dollar bid for DirecTV is an opt-out clause essentially granting AT&T the ability to withdraw from the merger if the satellite TV provider can’t get the league to sign on the dotted line.
The NFL is reportedly also considering altering the format in which the Sunday games are offered through Sunday Ticket should another party acquire the contract. If DirecTV and the NFL manage to come to an agreement, the presentation of the games will remain the same. But if the deal falls through, the NFL may offer separate rights to broadcast the games over the Web in addition to the traditional TV broadcast rights.
With a new over-the-top video service aimed at bringing cord-cutters back to pay-TV in the works, Dish would certainly be interested in those potential Internet licensing rights. Such a coupe would bring a massive audience to its proposed service, potentially creating a large enough revenue stream on its own to help make the new enterprise a success.
According to Bloomberg, a spokesman for DirecTV – Darris Gringeri – said the satellite-TV company is still in negotiation talks with the league. We’ll keep tabs on this evolving story as it develops, so stay tuned.