Talks ongoing for NFL UK TV

By Andrew Laughlin, Technology Reporter

NFL UK managing director Alistair Kirkwood has said that talks are ongoing over a deal for UK broadcast rights for NFL coverage.

Despite completion of the 2009/10 TV rights contracts being a key priority, Kirkwood said that this has proved unachievable due to the "challenging nature of negotiations". In a statement, he acknowledged the sense of "frustration" being felt by fans but assured that all efforts are being made to resolve the situation.

Sky and ESPN are thought to be the frontrunners to secure the rights, with the latter to most likely carry the coverage on its ESPN America channel, which was recently confirmed to continue as a standalone offering.

Without identifying any interested parties, Kirkwood said that talks should be completed in the "next two to three weeks". Despite this, he added that the protracted nature of negotiations has meant that the NFL preseason will not be shown on Sky Sports.

Kirkwood explained that the broadcasting landscape has shifted since the last time that the NFL negotiated its UK TV rights. He also accepted that NFL is a "relatively niche sport" in the UK, which means there is still "plenty of growing to do".

"I think you'll see that the sport is in a better situation once these contracts are signed and sealed. I think a top line view is that we have probably taken three steps forward and a couple of steps back," he added.
"However, it is apparent for us as fans of a relatively niche sport with plenty of growing still to do, we have no 'divine right' to expect wall-to-wall coverage of the NFL in the UK."

In addition to a forthcoming announcement on broadcast rights, Kirkwood also revealed that there are various improvements planned to the NFL UK online presence. This includes bringing "600+ pieces of exclusive tailored video content" to the new-look website.