Source: NFL has one-way option to exit DirecTV deal at end of 2019 season

Mike Florio
ProFootball Talk on NBC Sports

Conflicting reports have emerged in recent weeks regarding the duration of the NFL’s deal with DirecTV and, more importantly, the league’s ability to pull the plug on it prematurely.

Sports Business Journal previously reported that the league must exercise it’s ability to opt out of the $1.5 billion per year arrangement for NFL Sunday Ticket before the start of the 2019 regular season and that, if the league doesn’t, the contract lasts through the 2021-22 campaign. TheAthletic.com recently reported that a mutual window for early termination has passed, that the two sides extended it via a “gentleman’s agreement,” and that the contract runs through 2020-21.

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In a Thursday inteview with Julia Boorstin of CNBC, Commissioner Roger Goodell described the reported Week One 2019 deadline as “not accurate,” without elaborating on the accurate terms of the arrangement.

A source with direct knowledge of the terms of the deal tells PFT that the contract runs through the 2021-22 season, and that the NFL has a one-way option through the end of the 2019 season to cancel it prematurely. The source attributes the recent noise regarding the situation to “other nuances” related to the deal.

DirecTV, which is currently owned by AT&T, primarily makes the out-of-market Sunday games available via satellite. The league seems to be interested in developing a robust (and profitable) streaming option.

“[I]f there’s a way to bring DirecTV and give them an opportunity to expand the Sunday Ticket to other platforms, that’s something we’re interested [in] and engaged with, as well as looking at other platforms outside of that ecosystem,” Goodell told CNBC.

Regardless, the big-picture reality is that the two sides are indeed bound together for 2019-20, and that the NFL has the ability prior to the end of the current season to say “no thanks” as to the final two years, which absent premature termination will pay out $3 billion to the league.

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