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DirecTV scores NFL Sunday Ticket exclusivity for 8 more years

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DirecTV and the National Football League announced Wednesday that they have agreed to extend and expand the satellite provider’s exclusive rights to carry the lucrative NFL Sunday Ticket and its package of every Sunday afternoon out-of-market game through a new multi-year agreement. The new pact also expands DirecTV’s rights to stream NFL Sunday Ticket live on mobile devices and via broadband, known as NFL Sunday Ticket.TV.

Specific terms of the agreement were not disclosed, though the Washington Post has reported the 8 year deal is worth $1.5 billion annually for the NFL.

The renewed contract will see DirecTV continue broadcasting its Red Zone channel and the new Fantasy Zone channel that debuted this season. DirecTV and the NFL also extended their NFL Network distribution relationship with the satellite provider to offer its customers “TV Everywhere” access to NFL Network at any time and on virtually any device. Additionally, DirecTV will continue offering all out-of-market Sunday afternoon games in high-definition.

For those who can’t get DirecTV satellite service, the company has three tiered offerings for its NFL Sunday Ticket.TV, from $200 to the $330 MAX bundle, with different combinations of device compatibility. Customers who purchase the NFL Sunday Ticket ‘Max’ season pass will also have access to the online/mobile service and be able to watch their games on computer, smartphone, tablet, or video game console. Max subscribers will also get a Game Mix channel with up to eight games on one screen and the ‘Short Cuts’ feature, which offers replays of each Sunday game in 30 commercial-free minutes.

DirecTV’s effort to secure the Sunday Ticket package has been a factor of paramount importance within an even larger deal: the proposed $48.5 billion merger between the satellite provider and AT&T. Not long after AT&T first revealed its plan to swallow up DirecTV back in May, critics and experts naturally began dissecting the content and fine print of AT&T’s official filing with the SEC. They discovered a tricky opt-out clause that essentially allowed AT&T to walk away from the potential merger in the event that DirecTV were unable to renew its lucrative contract with the NFL, and thus maintain exclusive rights to the Sunday Ticket package. Dish Network revealed it would potentially make a bid for the rights to the contract, which is potentially worth billions in revenue. In short, the deal was a make-or-break issue for the merger.

Last week DirecTV shareholders generated even more momentum for the proposed marriage of the two companies when they voted 99 percent in favor of the deal. The vote was the latest step in a multi-tiered process on the heels of AT&T’s filing with the FCC in June, which is still awaiting approval.

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