DirecTV to pay around $1.4B to renew NFL Sunday Ticket, report says

DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV) is near a long-awaited deal to renew licensing rights to its venerable "NFL Sunday Ticket" package.

Sports Business Daily reports that DirecTV and the National Football League are close to a deal that will increase the satellite operator's annual license fee from about $1 billion to between $1.3 billion to $1.4 billion.

According to the report, DirecTV's rights fee will increase every year by a "mid-single-digit" percentage, in line with the football league's other media deals with ESPN, CBS and Fox.

Citing unnamed sources, Sports Business Daily also said DirecTV's renewal would run through around 2021 or 2022.

DirecTV had no comment to FierceCable's Monday-morning inquiry.

Speaking to investors July 31, DirecTV president and CEO Mike White said the deal was close, pending the ironing out of various digital rights components.The pay-TV company and the NFL are currently exploring a range of digtial distribution models, such as distributing IP-only versions of "Sunday Ticket" on college campuses.

Fifteen months earlier, White set off a firestorm of speculation by telling investors the "Sunday Ticket" package--which DirecTV has licensed since 1994--is a "mature product."

A number of rival pay-TV operators--and some aspiring ones, like Google (NASDAQ: GOOG)--took meetings with the NFL and kicked the tires. Some came away concerned that other NFL video packages, like the scoring-highlight-themed "RedZone," cannibalize "Sunday Ticket."

It all became moot over the spring, when AT&T (NYSE: T) proposed its $49 million acquisition of DirecTV and made renewal of "Sunday Ticket" a condition for the deal. "The NFL can now ask for the moon," said media analyst Craig Moffett, noting the enhanced leverage created by AT&T's ultimatum.

About 2 million DirecTV subscribers, or about 10 percent of the operator's customer base, pay for the premium "Sunday Ticket" package, shelling out up to $300 a month.

That price will certainly go up soon.

For more:
- read this Sports Business Daily story

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