NEW YORK — The NFL has extended its contract with satellite provider DirecTV to carry the “Sunday Ticket” package, which allows viewers to watch out-of-market games.
The deal expands DirecTV’s rights to stream the package live on mobile devices and online. The agreement is worth $12 billion over eight years — $1.5 billion annually, according to a person familiar with the contract.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the figures were not made public.
The previous deal was worth about $1 billion a year.
AT&T is in the process of acquiring DirecTV for $48.5 billion, making the expanded possibilities for mobile particularly attractive.
Wednesday’s announcement shows the lasting popularity of the NFL even as the league has endured weeks of turmoil over its handling of domestic violence cases. Its typically huge TV ratings have remained steady so far this season.
This was the last big renewal for the NFL’s TV packages. In 2011, the league extended its deals with CBS, Fox and NBC for nine years through the 2022 season. That increased the total revenues from those three networks from the $1.93 billion per year at the time to $3.1 billion by the end of the contracts.
A few months earlier, the NFL and ESPN had reached an eight-year extension to keep “Monday Night Football” on the cable channel through the 2021 season, increasing the rights fee from $1.1 to 1.9 billion annually.
DE ALEXANDER SUSPENDED 10 MORE GAMES: Panthers defensive end Frank Alexander was suspended an additional 10 games after violating the league’s substance abuse policy again, the league announced Wednesday.
Alexander was suspended May 2 for four games for violating the substance abuse policy.
The Panthers had hoped Alexander’s return this week would provide some help with Pro Bowler Greg Hardy out indefinitely while dealing with a domestic abuse case.
Alexander’s suspension begins immediately. He will be eligible to return to the active roster Dec. 15.
Alexander, a fourth-round draft pick in 2012, played in 12 games and had 15 tackles and one sack last season.
LOCKER TESTS RIGHT WRIST: Jake Locker practiced Wednesday for the Tennessee Titans, and now the quarterback will see how his right wrist responds to a full session of throwing the ball.
Locker isn’t overly concerned, he expects to play Sunday against the Cleveland Browns.
Locker said he feels good and was able to do everything Wednesday, which he calls encouraging.
Locker lobbied coach Ken Whisenhunt to play in last week’s 41-17 loss at Indianapolis but watched from the sideline as backup Charlie Whitehurst played.
TEAM TO STICK WITH QB DAVIS: Rams coach Jeff Fisher said Austin Davis will be the team’s starting quarterback for the rest of the season.
Fisher had insisted that Shaun Hill would return as the starter as soon as he was completely healed from a quad injury. Instead, he said Wednesday that Davis is the starter beginning Sunday at Philadelphia.
The 25-year-old Davis has sparked the Rams offense. He has thrown for 754 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions, while completing 72 percent of his passes since taking over for Hill midway through the first game of the season.
Davis’ 93.1 quarterback rating is ninth-highest among NFC quarterbacks.
DE ALLEN CONFIDENT HE’LL PLAY: Jared Allen is confident he will be ready to play this week for the Chicago Bears after missing a game because of pneumonia.
The five-time Pro Bowl defensive end said he’s feeling “much better” after sitting out Sunday’s loss to the Green Bay Packers. He returned to practice Wednesday on a limited basis and hopes to be ready when the Bears visit the Carolina Panthers this week.