SBD/December 13, 2013/Media

NFL Distances Itself From Reports It Is Close To Renewing With DirecTV For Sunday Ticket

The NFL is pushing back on reports that the league is close to renewing its DirecTV deal for NFL Sunday Ticket. The NFL says the two longtime partners still are negotiating, but have not agreed to the framework of any deal. NFL Media Group VP/Communications Alex Riethmiller said, "We do not have an agreement. Any speculation or reports to the contrary are not accurate" (John Ourand, Staff Writer). REUTERS' Grover & Baker had cited sources as saying that the two parties have "agreed on a framework for negotiations to renew" their deal. A source said that the two sides "'are still in material negotiations,' but extended their exclusive negotiating period to work through the remaining issues." However, the talks "might still not result in an agreement." The sources said that any agreement "still needs approval" by DirecTV's BOD and NFL owners, and will "not be announced" until Q1 or Q2 of '14 (REUTERS, 12/12). In N.Y., Claire Atkinson reports DirecTV is "believed to be expecting" a $200M increase in fees on its existing $1B annual contact, though it "may receive new digital rights" (N.Y. POST, 12/13). BLOOMBERG NEWS' Moritz & Sherman note about two million of DirecTV's 20 million U.S. customers last year "paid for 'Sunday Ticket.'" DirecTV "uses the package to attract and keep customers" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 12/13).

AFTERNOON DELIGHT: ADWEEK's Anthony Crupi noted the 4:25pm ET Sunday NFL national window broadcasts between Sept. 5-Dec. 9 "once again are eclipsing the formidable Sunday night franchise." With eight games "on the books, including an early-afternoon Thanksgiving contest, Fox and its America's Game of the Week broadcast is leading" with a 15.7 final rating and 27.3 million viewers, up 8% and 9% respectively. CBS’ late-afternoon Sunday window also is "putting up huge numbers," averaging a 15.3 rating and 26.7 million total viewers for eight broadcasts, up 7% and 11%, respectively (ADWEEK.com, 12/11). Meanwhile, ESPN earned a 10.2 final rating and 16.2 million viewers for the Cowboys-Bears telecast in Week 14, marking the net's best "MNF" audience this season to date (THE DAILY).

A THREE-HOUR TOUR: The NFL has "announced that the first-ever Pro Bowl draft will be televised" on NFL Network on Wednesday, Jan. 22. PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio noted the event will come a day after the teams, led by HOFers Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders, "draft 11 players who play the least interesting positions -- guard, center, fullback, interior defensive linemen, punter, and special teams." Those players will "walk the red carpet at the site of the made-for-TV Wednesday night draft, which should help chew up a few of the 180 minutes devoted to the effort" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 12/12).
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