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DirecTV closing in on NFL Sunday Ticket extension

US satellite television provider DirecTV has said that it expects to seal an extension to its key rights deal with the NFL American football league by the end of the year.

DirecTV is currently engaged in talks with the NFL over renewing the rights for Sunday Ticket beyond the current 2014-15 season. Sunday Ticket is an out-of-market subscription package that was launched by DirecTV in 1994, allowing subscribers to access Sunday afternoon games broadcast by US networks CBS and Fox.

Speaking at a Goldman Sachs media investors conference in New York on Friday, DirecTV chairman and chief executive Mike White said he’s “highly confident” that a new deal will be reached before the end of the year. “We have made good progress on the deal,” he added.

The Sunday Ticket contract is of significant strategic importance for DirecTV. US telecommunications company AT&T in May agreed a $48.5bn (€34.9bn) deal to acquire DirecTV, but it emerged that the firm would be able to cancel its takeover if DirecTV is unable to renew its exclusive deal for the Sunday Ticket package.

White said that he expects the merger, which has major implications for the US pay-television industry, to close at the end of the first quarter or early in the second quarter of 2015.