NFL Signs New Television Contract
The NFL agreed Monday to $8 billion in contract extensions with Fox and CBS to televise Sunday afternoon games for six more years, deals that would also allow the league to show better matchups late in the season in prime time. The current contract, which expires after the 2005 season, was worth $17.2 billion, including the Sunday night (on ESPN) and Monday night (on ABC) packages. The extensions will run through 2011. ESPN and ABC continue discussions with the NFL on both the Sunday night and Monday night packages.
The deals give the NFL the option to move seven late-season games from Sunday to Monday night to feature more attractive matchups, according to an official within the league who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. The NFL also can develop late-season prime-time satellite or cable packages of eight games, which would be televised on Thursdays and Saturdays. Or the league could take those eight games and show them regionally in prime-time telecasts on Sundays and Mondays.
DirecTV also extended its deal with the league through 2010 for the Sunday Ticket package. The satellite distributor will pay $3.5 billion for the five-year extension.
Once again, the NFL shows why it’s the dominant sports league. These moves are all quite fan-friendly. The current prime time games are agreed to well in advance based on the previous season. As a result, we often wind up with unattractive Sunday- and Monday Night Football matchups late in the year featuring teams with little national appeal.
NFL Sunday Ticket and the proposed late season package also offer those of us who are fans of teams outside the local area to get access to those games. In the age of TiVo and the Internet, we should soon get to the stage where everyone can watch the game of their choice, regardless of the dictates of the local market.