NFL and Comcast close to an agreement on cable distribution deal

Sports Illustrated’s Peter King is reporting that the NFL is close to a deal with Comcast to begin offering the NFL Network on their cable television package. League officials hope to gain momentum with this current agreement and have it carry over to their upcoming negotiations for a new labor agreement with the players association.

King also added that the NFL is on the verge of reaching a two-year contract extension with FOX and CBS to continue broadcasting their Sunday game packages. Many feel that NBC will likely follow suit and agree to a similar deal for their Sunday evening game package sometime before the start of the season.

Here is the breakdown of the potential agreement between the NFL and Comcast:

NFL Network had been carried on a pay sports tier for Comcast’s 24-million subscribers, and the NFL for years has been arguing its channel should be on the regular digital cable package with the ESPNs and CNNs of the cable TV world. Now that is close to happening. The deal would mean that instead of paying about $7 per month for the channel and other pay-TV sports channels, Comcast subscribers will get NFL Network with its regular digital package — and it will increase the number of TV homes the Network is seen in from about 35 million to close to 50 million. More importantly, it could well pave the way for the NFL to make deals with other cable companies similarly chapped at the league’s demand for huge rights fees for a sports channel with only 24 hours of NFL regular-season game programming per year.

Many in the league office feared that without a wider distribution of the NFL Network, the owners would have moved to cease operations of the channel. They were getting frustrated with the lack of movement in their five-year battle against Comcast on the network’s distribution rights.

The NFL will return to the negotiating table later this spring, as talks between the league and the NFL players association will begin on coming to a new collection bargaining agreement.

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