NFL, DirecTV extend deal for 8 years

The NFL and DirecTV announced Wednesday it had extended their relationship. Terms weren't disclosed, but a source with knowledge of the deal said the deal is for eight years and the rights fee was worth an average of $1.5 billion a year, up 50 percent from the $1 billion a year average DirecTV will pay through this season.

The most important part of the deal is the Sunday Ticket package, which gives DirecTV the exclusive right to air out-of-market games. The new deal also allows DirecTV to offer Sunday Ticket on mobile devices and over broadband and continue its non-exclusive broadcasting of the popular Red Zone Channel.

"We are pleased to continue our partnership with DirecTV," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "DirecTV and NFL Sunday Ticket have served our fans well for 20 years and continue to complement our broadcast television packages."

DirecTV uses the Sunday Ticket Package to woo fans who can't do without the programming during the football season, though an argument can be made that the Red Zone Channel, available on other carriers, might have lessened that appeal to fans not interested in watching whole games.

"The new agreement is a testament to the terrific long-term relationship we have with the NFL and its millions of fans across the country," said Mike White, DirecTV's chairman, president and CEO. "NFL Sunday Ticket has always been the centerpiece of DirecTV's sports leadership and we're pleased to continue our relationship with the NFL and be a part of the league's future growth and success."

Counting the DirecTV agreement into the other new long-term TV deals that the NFL and its broadcast partners have entered into, the league will be pulling in an average of $6.45 billion a year in television rights -- and that doesn't include the worth of the Thursday Night package, which CBS agreed to pay a reported $275 million for this year alone.

That an extension was struck isn't a surprise. In May, when AT&T agreed to buy DirecTV in a $48.5 billion deal, a regulatory filing revealed that if DirecTV didn't renew the Sunday Ticket Package, the telecommunications giant could walk away from the deal with no penalty.

The final premium paid, even amid the turmoil and the pressure that has been applied to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the league office in the aftermath of its handling of the Ray Rice case and other recent high-profile incidents, seems to solidify the thought that the product itself is insulated from the mistakes that have been made.