'Red Zone' Kicks Off On Cable

The NFL is bringing a key part of the Sunday afternoon package to cable that competitor DirecTV has had exclusively since 1994. The move comes as the league and large cable operators have been in a grudge match.

Cable operators--as well as telco TV providers Verizon and AT&T--will be able to offer the "Red Zone Channel" at some point before the 2012 season. The channel, a staple of DirecTV's "Sunday Ticket" for four seasons, carries the action for every game each time a team moves within scoring range (inside the 20-yard line).

Separately, in what is not a surprise, DirecTV has reached a deal to continue airing "Sunday Ticket" exclusively through 2014, offering subscribers access to each game on Sundays. The satellite operator began offering the package in 1994; its role in helping to bolster the DirecTV brand and garner subscribers cannot be underestimated.

As part of the deal, at some point in the next three years, "Sunday Ticket" subscribers--and others--will be able to access the package on the Internet.



In addition to cable and telco TV, the "Red Zone Channel" is also moving to the Internet and mobile devices.

Giving cable operators a piece of DirecTV's pie comes as large providers--namely Time Warner Cable and Cablevision--have refused to pay the rights fees the NFL wants to offer its eponymous network.

"Sunday Ticket" allows fans across the country to watch their favorite teams or big games, even if they aren't available in the local markets.

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