Monday, March 23, 2009

It's a Good News - Bad News kind of thing

Word from the NFL is that LenDale White is going to be thrown to the wolves (i.e. Steelers fans) to open the 2009 regular season: "In a tradition that began in 2004, the Super Bowl champion annually hosts the NFL Thursday night season kickoff the following year. This September 10 at 8:30 PM ET on NBC, the Super Bowl XLIII champion Pittsburgh Steelers will host the AFC South champion Tennessee Titans, who had an NFL-best 13-3 record last season."

Like all Steelers fans we are looking forward to tormenting Mr. White for his Terrible Towel desecration during last season.

Not all the news from the league was good. Apparently the NFL has decided to allow DirecTV to keep its monopoly of the Sunday Ticket package ~ obviously all the rumors about the package becoming more widely available were incorrect, again. Here is the press release from the NFL, which includes information about enhancements to the package (emphasis added:
The National Football League announced today an agreement to extend DIRECTV’s rights to carry NFL Sunday Ticket. DIRECTV will continue to have exclusive television rights to air the package of Sunday afternoon games through the 2014 NFL season.

The agreement also significantly broadens the reach of NFL Sunday Ticket by enabling NFL fans that cannot receive DIRECTV satellite service to get NFL Sunday Ticket via broadband. This service will begin no later than 2012.

In addition, the NFL will offer fans (also no later than 2012) a new “Red Zone Channel” that shows crucial live action cut-ins of all Sunday afternoon games starting at 1 p.m. ET and continuing through the conclusion of the 4 p.m. ET games. The “Red Zone Channel” will be available to cable, telco and satellite systems, wireless devices, and the Internet.

“We are pleased to extend a partnership with DIRECTV that has complemented and supported our broadcast television packages for 15 years,” said NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL. “We are looking forward to having the Red Zone channel on cable and other media platforms as well as showing NFL Sunday Ticket via broadband to the homes that cannot get satellite. This new content enhances our tradition of being the most pro-consumer, widely available sport on television.”

“The NFL SUNDAY TICKET™ service has been a part of DIRECTV since our first year of operation and is one of the defining characteristics of our best-in- class positioning,” said Chase Carey, president and CEO of DIRECTV Group. “This latest extension allows us to retain and broaden our most popular sports subscription service. Through our wireless offering to NFL SUNDAY TICKET™ customers and the new broadband service to non-customers, we’re now able to expand the reach to even more NFL fans everywhere.”

Among the new features for fans are:
  • Red Zone Channel: subscribers who do not have DIRECTV will have access to the “Red Zone” channel through local cable systems or telco, satellite systems and Internet providers. This special channel has been part of NFL Sunday Ticket on DIRECTV the past four seasons and will continue for those subscribers. It provides live look-ins and real-time highlights from every Sunday afternoon game starting at 1 P.M. (ET) through the late afternoon games. The channel switches from game to game and airs live action when a team is in the Red Zone (inside the 20-yard line) and poised to score. A host also provides real-time scoring and fantasy updates.

  • NFL Sunday Ticket on Broadband: Fans who live in areas where DIRECTV’s service is not available, such as apartment buildings or in residences with poor sightlines to a satellite signal, will be able to purchase a new NFL Sunday Ticket broadband package.
DIRECTV customers who purchase NFL SUNDAY TICKET™ and the SuperFan™ package receive all Sunday afternoon games in HD; a Game Mix channel with up to eight games on one screen; the Red Zone Channel; the SUPERCAST™ service that streams every live NFL SUNDAY TICKET™ broadcast to laptop computers; and the NFL SUNDAY TICKET™ Mobile service that delivers up-to-the-minute highlights, and soon full-length games, to cell phones, pda’s and other wireless devices.
The current deal, which was set to expire following the 2010 season netted the league a reported $700,000,000 ~ details were not released on how much this new deal will bring to the league.

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