NFL Extends DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket Pact

The National Football League on Monday announced it has extended DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket contract for an additional four seasons, giving the satellite-TV provider the rights to carry the out-of-market package through 2014.

The agreement was announced during the March 23 NFL owners’ meeting in Dana Point, Calif. While financial terms were not disclosed, under the new pact DirecTV effectively loses a measure of exclusivity. Starting in 2012, a new online offering, NFL Sunday Ticket on Broadband, will be made available to football fans who live in areas that are not serviced by DirecTV, such as apartment buildings or in residences with obstructed sightlines to the company’s satellite transmitter.

A Sunday Ticket partner since the service launched in 1994, DirecTV signed its current deal with the NFL in November 2004. The five-year, $3.5 billion agreement gave DirecTV out-of-market exclusivity through the 2010 season.

DirecTV’s introductory price for a Sunday Ticket subscription is payable in five installments of $59.95 each, for a grand total of $279.95 per season.

The company has successfully leveraged Sunday Ticket as a means of differentiating itself from its cable rivals, and the exclusivity of the offering seems to have had a positive impact on its subscriber numbers. In the fourth quarter of 2008, DirecTV added 301,000 new subs, an increase of 10 percent year-over-year, while lowering its churn rate to 1.47 percent, a nine-year low.

In addition to the Sunday Ticket reset, DirecTV also renewed its carriage of NFL Network.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that in addition to the broadband service, the NFL plans on rolling out a new “Red Zone Channel” for TV (cable, DBS and telco), wireless devices and online. The Red Zone app will offer live cut-ins of all Sunday afternoon games, switching from game to game whenever a team enters the eponymous area inside the opponent’s 20-yard-line.

The Red Zone Channel will be available no later than 2012.
“We are pleased to extend a partnership with DirecTV that has complemented and supported our broadcast television packages for 15 years,” said NFL Goodell. “We are looking forward to having the Red Zone channel on cable and other media platforms as well as showing NFL Sunday Ticket via broadband to the homes that cannot get satellite. This new content enhances our tradition of being the most pro-consumer, widely available sport on television.”