NFL to Return to BBC Under Two-Year Free-to-Air Deal

JOHN PAUL FILO/CBS

The football league, which also has a long-term deal with U.K. pay TV giant Sky, has a growing fan base in Britain.

The BBC and NFL on Wednesday unveiled a two-year TV rights deal that includes live coverage of all three International Series games at London's Wembley Stadium and the Super Bowl on free TV.

Financial details weren't disclosed, but the agreement comes at a time when the British government is looking to reduce the size and scope of the public broadcaster.

The BBC previously aired NFL games for six years, but then U.K. broadcaster Channel 4 snatched up the free-to-air U.K. TV rights in 2013.

Sky has the NFL pay TV rights in Britain. The pay TV giant, in which Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox owns a 39 percent stake, last year struck a new five-year deal, which includes more than 80 live fixtures per season and also includes International Series sessions.

The new deal also includes a weekly highlights show on BBC Two and online. This season's Wembley matches feature the New York Jets versus the Miami Dolphins (Oct. 4), the Jacksonville Jaguars against the Buffalo Bills (Oct. 25) and the Detroit Lions against the Kansas City Chiefs (Nov. 1).

Super Bowl 50, taking place in San Francisco on Feb. 7, will be shown live on BBC TV, radio and online.

"NFL has a growing fan base in the U.K. and I'm delighted that the BBC can bring it free-to-air for our audience," said director of BBC Sport Barbara Slater. "We look forward to delivering all the best action and drama of American football for the next two years on BBC TV, radio and online at the BBC Sport website."

Said Alistair Kirkwood, managing director of NFL UK: "We are very pleased and excited to be back on the BBC. As we look to expand our reach and create new fans, the BBC's free-to-air and digital platforms offer us a fantastic opportunity for further growth of our sport. The range of programming will offer an entry point for new fans as well as providing great content for existing NFL fans."

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