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DirecTV Gets $3.5 Billion Football Subscription Deal

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DETROIT ( -- The National Football League has reached agreements with Viacom's CBS and News Corp.'s Fox to continue to televise Sunday afternoon games through 2011, the league announced.
Football TV rights are now equal to the combined rights fees of both Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association.

Six-year deals
NFL officials said the six-year deals were worth a combined $8 billion. Executives close to the situation said the agreements were worth $713 million a year for the Fox package and $622 million for CBS. The $8 billion in rights fees just for the CBS and Fox packages equal the combined rights fees for Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association.

Also announced Monday evening was a five-year, $3.5 billion extension of the NFL's deal with DirecTV through 2010. DirecTV retains exclusive rights to carry NFL Sunday Ticket, the leading sports subscription TV package in the country.

Still out: ESPN, ABC
Still to be determined are the league's current prime-time packages with Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN and ABC. ESPN has weekly Sunday night games, while ABC has had Monday Night Football for 35 years. But executives said other networks -- presumably General Electric's NBC and cable stations TNT and TBS -- are also in the picture.

The league's current broadcast rights contract, the most valuable in team sports, was for a combined $17.2 billion and was to expire following the 2005 season.

CBS had NFL games from 1956 to 1993 before losing its package to Fox in 1993. CBS then re-acquired NFL rights in 1998.

New interactive elements
"Both networks will continue ... coverage of the NFL, which has grown to 32 teams and undergone realignment with a new, balanced scheduling formula since our last television negotiations in 1998," said a statement issued by the NFL commissioner, Paul Tagliabue. "The commitment to high-definition production plus new enhanced and interactive elements will take our Sunday afternoon telecasts to the next level."

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