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AT&T-DirecTV deal hinges on NFL ‘Sunday Ticket’ package renewal

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Over the weekend, AT&T made waves with its $48.5 billion acquisition of DirecTV, a move that raises a number of questions for NFL fans who want to know just what will happen with their beloved “Sunday Ticket.”

It’s a broadcast that has been such a complete game-changer, giving subscribers the chance to watch every Sunday NFL game for as much as $250 a season, that renewing the package is a contingency of the sale to AT&T. The present deal, which expires at the end of the season, costs DirecTV about $1 billion a season and the league and the satellite TV provider have been in talks about a new contract for months. DirecTV chief executive officer Mike White predicts that a deal will be done before the end of the year — and he’d better be right.

“The parties also have agreed that in the unlikely event that the company’s agreement for the `NFL Sunday Ticket’ service is not renewed on substantially the terms discussed between the parties, AT&T may elect not to consummate the merger,” the companies said in a government filing (via the Los Angeles Times).  As long as DirecTV uses “its reasonable best efforts” to keep the package, AT&T would not have cause for legal action if “Sunday Ticket” is not renewed.

“Sunday Ticket” lost some of its oomph with the creation of the RedZone channel, which shows scoring plays from every game on Sunday, but it’s still going to cost AT&T/DirecTV dearly. The price tag, according to the Times, may rise to $1.4 billion next season, with four-percent annual increases thereafter. All of which will make the NFL the big winner.

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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