NEW YORK - General Electric, NBC Universal and the National Football League today announced that NBC will become the exclusive home of “Sunday Night Football,” the NFL’s primetime network television package.
The six-year deal, which includes innovative flexible scheduling, begins with the 2006 season, continues through 2011 and includes Super Bowls in 2009 and 2012 and Pro Bowls in the same years. The deal also includes a unique GE association with the NFL in the healthcare technology, security equipment, electrical products (including lighting) and financial services categories.
The announcement was made today by Bob Wright, Vice Chairman, GE and Chairman and CEO, NBC Universal.
“Our NFL agreement carries with it not only the total commitment of NBC Universal, but also of GE. Similar to the Olympic agreement we entered into two years ago, this GE-style sports deal is an innovative partnership with considerable upside for the NFL, GE and NBC Universal," Wright said.
“Content is king at NBC Universal and NFL programming represents the very best in strong and consistently well-performing content. We are thrilled to be re-igniting our partnership with the NFL and joining with them in moving the 36-year American institution of Monday Night Football to Sunday Nights," Wright added.
Jeff Zucker, President, NBC Universal Television Group, said: “Sunday is the most-watched night in television, so when the NFL proposed its first ever Sunday primetime broadcast package, all of us wanted to find a way to make it work. We acquired a Top-10 show without negatively impacting our Monday through Saturday dominance in late night and we did it with four hours in prime, as opposed to the traditional two hours on Monday nights. This is an incredible opportunity for both the NFL and NBC.”
Randy Falco, President, NBC Universal Television Networks Group, said:
“This will be a profitable agreement for us. We have said consistently since 1998 that we would love to be in business with the NFL, but only at the right price. Now the price is right. Bringing the power of the NFL back to NBC is great news for our viewers, our stations and our advertisers.”
Dick Ebersol, Chairman, NBC Universal Sports & Olympics, said: “For decades, football fans and media have demanded the primetime package be made flexible so the best match-ups would be available to the largest audience in primetime. To their great credit, the NFL has responded with an innovative plan to meet that demand over the last seven weeks of each season of NBC’s ‘Sunday Night Football.’
“The move from Monday to Sunday will not only mean schedule flexibility but also four hours of the NFL in primetime as opposed to just two. ‘Sunday Night Football’ will also have the added advantage of kicking off an hour earlier on television’s most watched night.”
For each of the six seasons, NBC will kickoff the NFL regular season with a Thursday night primetime game. The first regular season game of the new agreement, NBC’s “NFL Kickoff 2006,” will launch the 2006 NFL regular season on Thursday Sept. 7, 2006 in primetime.
The agreement calls for 16 regular season “Sunday Night Football” games, each season’s “NFL Kickoff” Thursday night primetime game, two postseason Wild Card games and three preseason games in primetime. NBC will also broadcast Super Bowl XLIII in 2009 and XLVI in 2012 and Pro Bowls in the same years.
Under the new agreement, the NFL will provide flexible game scheduling over the final seven weeks of the regular season. The flexible game selection, offered for the first time by the NFL, will ensure marquee match-ups over the final seven weeks of the season when many teams’ playoff chances are at stake.
NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” will broadcast an NFL pre-game show from 7-8 p.m. ET followed by the kickoff at 8:15 p.m. ET. Both the game and pre-game will be aired in high definition.
The agreement provides GE with the opportunity to associate with the NFL in healthcare technology, security equipment, electrical products (including lighting) and financial services categories. GE Commercial Finance has an existing relationship with the NFL. Mark Lewis, NBC’s vice president of GE Olympic Sponsorship, who is charged with the implementation of GE’s Olympic sponsorship through the IOC’s TOP (The Olympic Partners) program, will be heavily involved in implementing the GE association with the NFL.
The GE agreement also has an international component and will include international NFL preseason games, particularly in China.
“Monday Night Football” was the second-longest running show on broadcast television (2005 will be its 36th and final year, behind CBS’s “60 Minutes,” 38 years). “Monday Night Football” has been a Top 10 show (HH) every year since 1992 during the NFL season and prior to the advent of the blockbuster hit “Desperate Housewives,” it was ABC’s No. 1 show (HH) for each of the previous three years.
NBC’s long history with the NFL dates back 66 years to 1939 when NBC became the first network to televise an NFL game - Philadelphia Eagles vs. Brooklyn Dodgers game from Ebbets Field to the approximately 1,000 sets then in New York. NBC first broadcast the NFL Championship Game in 1955.
In 1964, NBC signed a five-year contract to televise the AFL. NBC was awarded the AFC package in 1970, an association that would continue through the 1997-98 season. NBC televised the first Super Bowl in 1967, Super Bowl III between the Baltimore Colts and New York Jets, which led to the merger of the AFL and NFL, and has broadcast three of the most five watched Super Bowls in history.
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