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
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