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Google and NFL meet about rights

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Google has been holding talks with the National Football League, raising speculation that the Internet monolith is seeking new inroads into television.

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Other tech companies like Apple are reportedly in talks with cable providers to boost access to blockbuster television shows through their devices.

With Google sitting on a cash pile of $48 billion, the league's Sunday Ticket package is easily within its reach.

The contract is currently held by DirecTV, which pays about $1 billion annually for the rights. That contract, however, expires at the end of the 2014 season.

Earlier this year, Google Chief Financial Officer Patrick Pichette said ``it serves the shareholder best to actually have that strategic ability to pounce,'' when there is the opportunity to make a major acquisition.

The NFL confirmed its meetings with Google Wednesday, but declined to discuss the nature of those talks, as did Google.

``Members of our office meet often with innovative leaders in Silicon Valley and around the world,'' the NFL said in a statement. ``We are constantly looking for ways to make our game better on the field, in the stadium and for fans.''

The Sunday Ticket Package provides fans with access to most out-of-market NFL games not televised nationally on ESPN or on NBC.

Citi analyst Jason Bazinet believes that DirecTV is losing money on the deal, generating only about $725 million a year in revenue. He thinks a new contract would run about $1.5 billion if DirecTV were to make another go for it.

DirecTV has a market capitalization of about $32 billion and would be unlikely to remain for long in a bidding war with Google, which has a market capitalization nine times that.

Bazinet believes DirecTV investors would welcome the prospect of letting the NFL go.

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