The National Football League doesn’t have a problem with announcers who don’t want to use the name “Redskins” when covering games involving the Washington franchise.
“We don’t dictate to our broadcast partners how they cover the game,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell during a news conference with CBS executives to discuss the network’s new Thursday night football package at the semi-annual Television Critics Assn. press tour in Beverly Hills.
Many sports columnists and newspapers have said they will no longer use “Redskins” out of deference to Native Americans who may find the name offensive. Redskins owner Dan Snyder has been adamant that he has no intention of changing the team’s name.
CBS Sports President Sean McManus said the decision on whether to say “Redskins” while covering the team’s games is up to the individual sportscaster.
“We don’t tell our announcers what to say about any topic,” McManus said. He added: “We haven’t made any specific plans with respect to the name.”
CBS will start carrying football on Thursday night this fall. The network signed a one-year deal with the NFL for eight games that will also be simulcast on the league’s NFL Network. The price tag for the package is around $275 million.
Previously, all the Thursday games were on the NFL Network exclusively. The NFL wanted to put some of the games on a broadcast network as well to boost the audience for the games and to create another TV rights stream.
The NFL has the option to renew its deal with CBS for a second year. CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves is confident that the network’s one-year deal will turn into a long-term relationship.
“It is our job to show the NFL what we can do and how great it can be,” Moonves said, adding that he is hopeful that at the end of the upcoming season, the deal will be extended.
The NFL has locked up long-term rights deals with all its TV partners except DirecTV, which carries Sunday Ticket, an exclusive package for subscribers to the satellite service that gives them access to every Sunday afternoon football game.
DirecTV currently pays $1 billion per-season for Sunday Ticket, and its deal is up after this season. DirecTV and the NFL have been in negotiations for some time on a new contract. Goodell said he expects a deal to be done before the end of the year.
The fee DirecTV pays is expected to rise significantly in its next deal. Some industry analysts have forecast that DirecTV will pay $1.4 billion for the 2015 season, which would be a 40% increase, and then that the rights will go up about 4% per-year after that.
Keeping Sunday Ticket is so important to DirecTV that AT&T put a clause in its deal to buy the company that allows it to back out if the satellite service loses the package.
Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.