Football season has finally arrived and DISH Network crossed the wire in the nick of time, reaching a deal with the National Football League (NFL Media) on a new carriage agreement for the NFL Network and NFL RedZone channels on its DISH satellite TV and Sling TV live streaming platforms.

Both networks were restored on DISH TV and Sling TV in time for the first Sunday games of the season yesterday. Sling TV carries the channels as part of its Blue service tier.

Unfortunately for Dish subscribers living near one of 12 network affiliate stations owned by Mission Broadcasting, an agreement did not come in time to restore local channel services from Mission stations offering full game coverage of a nationally broadcast game or a local team game to those affected markets. Mission’s television stations went dark to Dish Network subscribers on Sept. 11, 2020 after Mission said it failed to reach a retransmission consent agreement with the satellite TV service provider.

The move with the NFL gave subscribers in the Mission markets some relief, however.

The deal with the NFL takes on new significance this year as officially recognized sports gambling now has a more prominent role during coverage of NFL games. The NFL RedZone, which switches between on-going games when a team is inside an opponent’s 20 yard line and getting ready to score, is especially popular with gamblers and fantasy football league participants with financial interests at stake in multiple games.

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DISH Network competitor DirecTV continues to have exclusive direct-to-home TV rights to the premium Sunday Ticket out-of-market NFL game package, in which viewers are able to tune in any NFL game outside of the immediate TV market during the heat of the regular season on Sunday afternoons. DirecTV also offers the NFL Network and NFL RedZone channels, the later of which is a staple with the NFL Sunday Ticket subscription.

In a statement announcing the deal, Hans Schroeder, NFL Media executive VP and chief operating officer, said: “We join millions of NFL fans who are thrilled to see NFL Network and NFL RedZone back on DISH and Sling TV in time for the 2020 NFL season. Our goal is to provide NFL fans everywhere the opportunity to view award-winning coverage of America’s favorite sport and DISH and Sling TV are important partners in that mission.”

“We’re excited to have reached an agreement that benefits all parties, most importantly our customers and NFL fans,” said Andy LeCuyer, DISH’s senior vice president of programming. “Thank you for your patience and understanding as we worked through the negotiations.”

The announcement listed Nielsen Company data showing 183 million people tuned into the 2019 NFL regular season representing 69% of all television homes and 59% of potential viewers in the U.S. NFL games accounted for 47 of the 50 most-watched TV shows among all programming in 2019.

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By Greg Tarr

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