The billion-dollar contract that lets DirecTV air "NFL Sunday Ticket" is up for grabs after the 2014 season. Is Google looking to intercept it?
UNCONFIRMED: Neither Google nor the NFL is saying much about the supposed talks. Of course, they aren't denying the news, either.
A new report claims that top-level Google executives recently met with the National Football League in an attempt to grab hold of a contract that currently allows DirecTV to air every Sunday NFL football game through its program "NFL Sunday Ticket." In a statement sent to MSN News, the NFL confirmed that the meeting took place, but declined to say what was discussed.
"Members of our office meet often with innovative leaders in Silicon Valley and around the world," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in the statement. "We are constantly looking for ways to make our game better on the field, in the stadium and for fans. We are not commenting on any specifics of the meetings."
News of the meeting was first reported by AllThingsD, which said Google CEO Larry Page met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and other members of his inner circle Tuesday. "... the Sunday Ticket package was among the topics of discussion, according to people familiar with the meeting," the website reported.
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company recently has been trying to make inroads into the television world, and Robert Kyncl, the head of Google subsidiary YouTube, was reportedly on hand at the meeting with Goodell.
DirecTV pays about $1 billion per year for the NFL contract, which expires after the 2014 season. Using figures from the recent renewal of NFL contracts by NBC, CBS, Fox and ESPN, AdWeek recently estimated that the same contract DirecTV has now will cost $1.76 billion per year to renew for the 2015 season.
According to a Fox Sports report, Citi analyst Jason Bazinet believes that DirecTV is losing millions on the deal. He thinks a new contract would run about $1.5 billion if DirecTV were to make another go for it.
DirecTV has a market capitalization of about $32 billion and would be unlikely to remain for long in a bidding war with Google, which has a market capitalization nine times that. Bazinet believes DirecTV investors would welcome the prospect of letting the NFL go.
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