The National Football League (NFL) is set to receive its own dedicated channel in the UK and Ireland as part of a renewed five-year rights agreement with longstanding partners Sky.
Sky has owned the rights to the NFL for 25 years and will now look to further that relationship by aiding in the growth of the sport internationally and targeting the important UK and Ireland market.
The deal, that will run from 2020 to 2024, will be the first time that the NFL has launched a channel with an international broadcaster.
Sky has stated that alongside the brand-new channel, that will be called Sky Sports NFL, there will be NFL coverage across the Sky Sports New channel and across their social channels.
The 2020 season is set to begin on September 10, where the channel will host five live games per week, which include: Sunday night games at 6pm and 9pm, playoff fixtures, Pro Bowl and Super Bowl games, every Thursday Night, Sunday Night and Monday Night Football as well as highlights and ancillary programming.
Currently, the deal with Sky only featured six Sunday Night Football games per season, shown on Sky One, a channel that is primarily used for non-sporting entertainment. Some games were also shown on the free-to-air channel Pick TV.
UK viewers’ access to the majority of the games was through Game Pass, the NFL’s OTT platform but Sunday’s games were blacked out due to the rights owned by Sky.
Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, was elated at the chance of seeing increased development in the interest of the league overseas.
“This new five-year agreement and the launch of a dedicated Sky Sports NFL channel will undoubtedly continue our rapid growth in the UK and Ireland. We are excited that our expanded partnership with Sky will provide even more NFL content to our millions of UK and Irish fans”
Stephen van Rooyen, chief executive officer at Sky UK and Europe, added: “Sky Sports has shown live NFL since 1995 and played a big role in growing the sport in the UK and Ireland over the last 25 years. Now, as part of Comcast, we are excited about taking our partnership to a whole new level.”
The dedicated channel will be of welcome news to the NFL, whose earlier plans of progressing the interest of the league across the UK was dealt a blow when the four games that were set to go ahead in London were cancelled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Author: Jake Wilkin