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NFL and Sky to launch UK and Ireland channel in five-year rights deal

The NFL and pay-television broadcaster Sky will jointly launch a new dedicated channel in the UK and Ireland as part of a new five-year rights agreement.

The deal, from 2020 to 2024, marks the first time that the league has launched a channel with an international broadcaster.

Sky has held live NFL rights for 25 years, with its most recently deal running from 2015 to 2019, including the Super Bowl LIV which was played this February.

The 2020 season will begin September 10, with the new channel, Sky Sports NFL, set to offer: a minimum of five live games per week; the first-pick exclusive Sunday night games at 6pm and 9pm; all playoff, Pro Bowl and Super Bowl games live; every Thursday Night, Sunday Night and Monday Night Football; and a host of highlights and ancillary programming.

Sky has also said that there will be increased NFL coverage on its Sky Sports News channel, as well as on digital and social platforms.

Sky Sports NFL joins a growing list of Sky’s dedicated channels, which includes Sky Sports channels for the Premier League, Football, Cricket, F1 and Golf.

As part of the current deal, Sky shows a minimum of six Sunday Night Football games on its lower-tier entertainment channel Sky One each season, as well as some games on free-to-air channel Pick TV.

The league is also available to UK viewers on Game Pass, the NFL’s own OTT platform, but regular-season games on Sunday shown live by Sky are blacked out.

Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner, said: “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, said: “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.”

Sky owner Comcast also own the US network NBC, which currently holds select rights in the US to the NFL. Its deal with the league, from 2014-15 to 2022-23, is for the Sunday Night Football package of primetime games, the season-opening game and Thanksgiving primetime match. Over the course of the nine-year deal, it has the right to broadcast three Super Bowls.

The NFL was due to stage four games in London in the 2020 season, however these have been cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.