NEW YORK — NBC Universal has signed a massive carriage deal with DirecTV that includes contract renewals for USA Network, Sci Fi Channel and all of the NBC-owned TV stations, including high-def programming.
By virtue of an earlier deal, DirecTV has a long-term contract for CNBC and MSNBC, and for the Olympics coverage that NBC will funnel to its cable nets. But the new deal adds the right of the sat TV operator to distribute the Olympics programming in high definition, starting with next month’s Games from Athens, Greece.
Other NBC U cable network renewals cover Bravo, Telemundo and Mun2; DirecTV also has agreed to take a multiplex channel called Bravo HD+.
Rounding out the transaction, NBC U has given DirecTV the right to carry Universal’s theatrical movies in satellite pay-per-view as well as any PPV specials or events produced by NBC U. Instead of going through a PPV distrib like TVN, DirecTV negotiates its own deals directly with the major studios.
Dave Zaslav, prexy of NBC U Cable, touted the pact as the first major, all-encompassing carriage deal with a top distributor since NBC and Universal merged in spring.
NBC came away pleased at getting DirecTV to agree to set aside the bandwidth needed to carry HD programming from the Peacock. But the deal does not include any future digital services created by the NBC O&Os, such as a local weather channel now being transmitted by WNBC-TV New York.
NBC, like other broadcast nets, is wrestling with what to do with the digital bandwidth its owned stations will control during the dayparts when the network is not using it up with high-def signals.
The broadcasters are trying to get the government to force cable and satellite to carry extra program services originated by TV stations in the bandwidth, such as an all-local news channel or local weather channel.
Cable and satellite ops claim that they don’t have the capacity to absorb three or four extensions of each local station in a market. If the courts rule that cable and satellite don’t have to take these local services, then the marketplace will take over and each station group will have to negotiate with the cable systems in their markets.
Stephanie Campbell, executive VP of programming for DirecTV, called the deal “a gold medal win for our customers,” stressing the HD programming that NBC is committed to.
DirecTV plans to carry up to 100 pro football games this season on its NFL Sunday Ticket.