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DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket HD Premium Questioned

NEW YORK: The premium cable and satellite TV carriers charge for hi-def programming is the driving force behind broadcast retransmission fees. While those fees are growing and carrier resistance is rising, the premiums persist. Richard Sandomir of The New York Times notes that DirecTV charges $10 a month extra for HD on a regular subscription package. The same format costs $99 on the satellite provider’s popular NFL Sunday Ticket, the special package of out-of-market, regular season pro football games produced by CBS and Fox. (Sandomir rounds up to $100.)

DirecTV this year extended its Sunday Ticket contract through 2014 for $1 billion a year; recouped in part through add-ons. Hi-def delivery is part of a larger upgrade package that includes updates, replays, scores, clips and mobile access. The addition of the package brings NFL Sunday Ticket to $300 a year. Around 2 million subscribers take the package to see up to 14 Sunday afternoon out-of-market games.

A number of subscribers with older DirecTV set-tops reportedly lost Sunday Ticket altogether on Sept. 20, when the game was transmitted in MPEG-4. Those subs with MPEG-2 set-tops got an error code, Multichannel News reported.

Sandomir’s coverage, “When High Def Doesn’t Include High Def,” is available at The New York TimesPro Football page.

More on DirecTV’s NFL package:
March 24, 2009: “DirecTV Scores NFL Package”
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.