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EL SEGUNDO, CALIF:DirecTV is maintaining its special relationship with the National Football League for another four years through the application of a bucket of money. The DBS provider is reported to be paying the NFL $4 billion to extend its current contract through 2014. DirecTV’s current $700 million-a-year contract with the league expires next year.

DirecTV cozied up to the NFL 15 years ago soon after launching and started offering the Sunday Ticket franchise, a package of out-of-market games offered for $99. The re-up adds broadband access for Sunday Ticket beginning no later than 2010, and a new “Red Zone” channel of live cut-ins of Sunday afternoon games. Red Zone will be available to other distributors and to DirecTV subs not taking Sunday Ticket. Red Zone coverage runs Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m., jumping from one NFL game to another as play moves inside 20-yard line.