SBJ/Nov. 1, 2010/This Week's Issue

NFL Network picks up AFL option

The NFL Network has renewed its deal to broadcast Arena Football League games during the 2011 season, which begins in early March.

According to multiple sources familiar with the deal, NFL Network picked up its option with the AFL after airing the games last season.

It is expected that the NFL Network will air the AFL live on Friday nights from 8 to 11 p.m. ET, the same format as last year. The one-year deal also includes the AFL postseason and the ArenaBowl championship.

The AFL has not yet released its 2011 schedule, but a source said the season will be moved up three weeks to begin on March 11, while ending with the ArenaBowl on Aug. 5.

Terms call for the AFL to sell advertising inventory around the broadcasts, with the league and NFL Network splitting all revenue.

The league has spent its offseason expanding into bigger markets, a strategy that appealed to the NFL Network. The league will grow to 18 teams in 2011, up from 15 last season. The league has added new franchises in Kansas City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and San Jose, while relocating its Bossier City team to New Orleans.

The Oklahoma City franchise will not play in 2011.

AFL Commissioner Jerry Kurz did not return calls for comment.

Staff writer John Ourand contributed to this report.

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