NATIONAL SPORTS NEWS -- The National Football League has agreed to nine-year extensions of its Sunday broadcast television packages with CBS, FOX and NBC that will keep NFL games on free, over-the-air television, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced Wednesday. The nine-year terms are the longest for NFL television agreements with over-the-air broadcast partners, surpassing the eight-year deals signed with CBS, FOX and ABC from 1998 to 2005.
The new agreements run through the 2022 season. The NFL's current television agreements expire following the 2013 season.
The agreements also enable the NFL to expand its Thursday night package of games on NFL Network beginning next year. The number of additional Thursday night games has not been determined.
The NFL is the only sports league that delivers all of its games -- regular-season and playoffs -- on free, over-the-air television. (ESPN's Monday night and NFL Network's Thursday night cable games are required by contract to be carried on over-the-air, broadcast stations in the cities of the participating teams, subject to local blackout rules).
CBS will televise the American Football Conference package of Sunday afternoon games that it acquired in 1998. CBS first began televising NFL games in 1956 and carried the NFC package from 1970 through 1993.
FOX will continue with the National Football Conference package of Sunday afternoon games that it acquired in 1994.
NBC will again carry the Sunday Night Football package of primetime games that it acquired in 2006. NBC will continue to televise the Thursday night NFL season Kickoff game to open each season and will add the annual Thanksgiving primetime game starting in 2012.
Flexible scheduling -- which ensures quality matchups in all NFL Sunday time slots and gives teams a chance to play their way onto primetime on NBC and into the late-afternoon 4:15 PM ET time slot on CBS and FOX -- remains a viewer-friendly element of the network broadcast agreements. It will be expanded in 2014, including the ability to move games between CBS and FOX to bring regional games to wider audiences. Further details on enhanced flexible scheduling will be developed with the networks.
CBS, FOX and NBC will each televise three Super Bowls during the term of the agreements, continuing the current rotation. NBC will carry Super Bowl XLIX (49) in Glendale, Ariz., in 2015, Super Bowl LII (52) in 2018 and Super Bowl LV (55) in 2021. CBS will broadcast Super Bowl L (50) in 2016, Super Bowl LIII (53) in 2019 and Super Bowl LVI (56) in 2022. FOX will televise Super Bowl LI (51) in 2017, Super Bowl LIV (54) in 2020 and Super Bowl LVII (57) in 2023.
"These agreements underscore the NFL's unique commitment to broadcast television that no other sport has," Commissioner Goodell said. "The agreements would not have been possible without our new 10-year labor agreement and the players deserve great credit. Long-term labor peace is allowing the NFL to continue to grow, and the biggest beneficiaries are the players and fans."
Commissioner Goodell said NFL fans should expect ongoing innovation from the NFL and its TV partners.
"CBS, FOX and NBC have served NFL fans with the highest-quality television production," Commissioner Goodell said. "The networks will continue their outstanding coverage of the NFL while also helping to deliver more football to more fans using the best and most current technology."
Earlier this season, the NFL and ESPN reached an eight-year extension to keep Monday Night Football on ESPN through the 2021 season.
NFL games are 23 of the 25 most-watched programs among all television shows this fall and draw more than twice as many average viewers as broadcast primetime shows.