NFL, Dish Strike New Carriage Contract After Nearly Three Months of Haggling

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Jacob Kupferman/CSM/REX/Shutters

The NFL’s two big TV services are back with satellite-distributor Dish just in time for the football league’s next season to kick off.

NFL Network and NFL RedZone went dark on Dish in mid-June after the two sides failed to come to terms on a new contract. The NFL said at the time that it had “offered terms consistent with those in place with other distributors,” but noted, “Dish has not agreed.” Somehow, just as the first Sunday afternoon games of the 2020 NFL season were about to start, the two sides found common ground.

“We’re excited to have reached an agreement that benefits all parties, most importantly our customers and NFL fans,” said Andy LeCuyer, senior vice president of programming for Dish, in a prepared statement. “Thank you for your patience and understanding as we worked through the negotiations.” The two sides did not unveil terms of their new agreement.

For football die-hards, NFL Network and RedZone are must-haves. The NFL Network usually offers 65 pre-season games as well as a spate of in-season contests, which include a trio of games at season’s start and two Saturday doubleheaders in the season’s 15th and 16th weeks. The cable network also offers an original morning program and pre-game coverage on Sundays. RedZone, a premium add-on service, lets fans see live look-ins on all the games being telecast Sunday afternoons on CBS and Fox, particularly when a team gets to the 20-yard line and near a scoring opportunity. The coverage is commercial free.

Dish has earned a reputation in recent years as one of the industry’s toughest negotiators, and has not had HBO or Cinemax on its service since 2018. Univision was removed from Dish for nearly nine months in 2018 and 2019. In the fall of last year, Dish cut ties with a passel of regional sports networks that had been owned by Fox but were sold by Walt Disney to Sinclair Broadcast after Fox sold the bulk of its cable and studio assets.

“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,” said Hans Schroeder, executive vice president and chief operating officer of NFL Media, in a statement. “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.”