Google and NFL meet; Sunday Ticket up for grabs?

Google has been holding talks with the National Football League,

raising speculation that the Internet monolith is seeking new

inroads into television.

Other tech companies like Apple are reportedly in talks with

cable providers to boost access to blockbuster television shows

through their devices.

With Google sitting on a cash pile of $48 billion, the league’s

Sunday Ticket package is easily within its reach.

The contract is currently held by DirecTV, which pays about $1

billion annually for the rights. That contract, however, expires at

the end of the 2014 season.

Earlier this year, Google Chief Financial Officer Patrick

Pichette said ”it serves the shareholder best to actually have

that strategic ability to pounce,” when there is the opportunity

to make a major acquisition.

The NFL confirmed its meetings with Google Wednesday, but

declined to discuss the nature of those talks, as did Google.

”Members of our office meet often with innovative leaders in

Silicon Valley and around the world,” the NFL said in a statement.

”We are constantly looking for ways to make our game better on the

field, in the stadium and for fans.”

The Sunday Ticket Package provides fans with access to most

out-of-market NFL games not televised nationally on ESPN or on

NBC.

Citi analyst Jason Bazinet believes that DirecTV is losing money

on the deal, generating only about $725 million a year in revenue.

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.

Google recently unveiled a device called Chromecast, which is

part of its attempt to make it easier for people to access Internet

content on their TVs. Chromecast is a small stick roughly the same

size as a thumb drive that can be plugged into an HDMI port on

flat-panel TVs.