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NFL in Talks With Providers on New Sunday Ticket Contract
Were speaking to some companies NFL Lines youd think of and some you wouldnt, Rolapp said today in an interview at the Bloomberg Sports Business Summit in New York. Rolapp declined to elaborate on the identities of the interested buyers.
DirecTV, the largest U.S. satellite television operator, has an exclusive deal for Sunday Ticket with the NFL, enabling it to broadcast out-of-market Sunday afternoon football games until the end of the 2014 season. Chief Executive Officer Mike White said he was optimistic that the contract will stay with us for the long haul during a conference call last month.
Rolapp declined to say whether DirecTV (DTV) was the front-runner in negotiations with the league over a new contract. Darris Gringeri, a spokesman for El Segundo, California-based DirecTV, didnt immediately return a call seeking comment.
The league could sell Sunday Ticket digital rights separately from TV rights and is discussing exclusive deals and non-exclusive contracts with multiple providers, Rolapp said. Digital and TV rights are currently tied together in the contract with DirecTV.
DirecTVs NFL Sunday Ticket package lets customers watch all of the leagues games, excluding those broadcast by networks local affiliates. The service also allows viewers to see the games from different angles and track player statistics.
The satellite TV operator pays about $1 billion per year in its current contract with the NFL. This season, its including Sunday Ticket at no additional cost to new subscribers and sells an online-only version to those who cant get its TV service. About 2 million DirecTV customers paid for Sunday Ticket last season. The company has about 20 million U.S. subscribers.
In addition to Sunday Ticket, NFL games are broadcast by CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN.
While pay-TV is the NFLs preferred method of mass distribution, Sunday Ticket doesnt necessarily fit that category because its a premium product and therefore a different model, Rolapp said during a panel at the Sports Business Summit.
Technology-news website AllThingsD reported Aug. 20 that the NFL met with Google Inc. (GOOG) CEO Larry Page about its interest in Sunday Ticket.
Google, Sony Corp. (6758) and Intel Corp. (INTC) are among tech companies working to deliver Web-based TV products, threatening the position of established pay-TV providers such as DirecTV and Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC) At the same time, networks are demanding higher fees for broadcast signals and looking for new ways to sell digital rights.
DirecTV shares rose 2 percent to $60.84 at the close in New York, taking their gain to 21 percent this year.