AT&T Optimistic as DirecTV-NFL Sunday Ticket Talks Go On

AT&T Inc. Chief Financial Officer John Stephens said the National Football League’s recent commentary on negotiations with DirecTV for NFL Sunday Ticket rights is “very encouraging.”

Those talks are key now that AT&T’s $48.5 billion takeover of DirecTV hinges on the satellite-TV company securing a renewal of the sports rights. AT&T can walk away from the acquisition if the football relationship isn’t renewed on terms that AT&T and DirecTV have discussed, according to a regulatory filing this week.

Stephens, speaking at the JPMorgan Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference in Boston today, said DirecTV is responsible for negotiating with the NFL on its own. DirecTV has been carrying the out-of-market Sunday-afternoon games for about 20 years. The last four-year contract was for $4 billion.

Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL, said the league is still in an exclusive negotiating period with El Segundo, California-based DirecTV.

“They’ve been a terrific partner,” Goodell said in a press conference yesterday. “We’re obviously aware of the transaction and it’s something -- we’ll continue in negotiations, but they have been very productive to date, and we hope to bring them to a successful conclusion soon.”

Stephens called the Sunday Ticket content unique and premier.

“Quite frankly, a combined company, once combined, has a unique opportunity to offer the NFL something that no other company can provide -- mainly those hundreds of millions of opportunities, whether they be satellite, whether they be broadband, whether they’d be wireless, whether they be tablets, in any variety,” Stephens said. “It’s a very interesting opportunity.”

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.