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CBS Buys Rights to NFL Championship Games in ’64 and ‘65

Apr. 17, 1964 - Television and radio rights to the NFL championship games in 1964 and 1965 were sold to CBS today. The price of $1.8 million per game was nearly double the $926,000 that NBC paid for the 1963 championship game. Last year’s fee had been a record for a one-day sports event.

In January, CBS made a winning big of $28.2 million for television rights to the NFL’s regular season games in 1964 and 1965. Other bids were submitted by ABC and NBC.

The new CBS deal was made by negotiation and not through bidding. The development came as a surprise in broadcasting and the sports field. It had been assumed that the NFL would again ask for bids on the championship game this year, awarding the rights to the highest bidder.

NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle explained today: “Negotiations for the two-year agreement were limited to CBS because each of the other two major networks have contracts with the AFL to televise regular season games during the period of this contract, and one of these networks is committed to carry the AFL championship game in 1964.”

“Therefore,” Rozelle continued, “it is considered the best interests of the NFL to keep its championship game free of any possible conflict of interest, especially in the area of promotion. In 1961 and 1963, the two times the NFL championship game was awarded on the basis of network bids, there were no other professional football commitments among the bidding parties.”

ABC will televise the AFL’s regular season games this year and also the championship game. In 1965, NBC will take over the AFL schedule under a five-year contract.

NBC had televised the NFL championship game for the last nine years. Although CBS has had rights to regular season games for several years, this year will be the first time it has carried the championship game.

This year’s championship is scheduled for Dec. 27 in the home of the Eastern conference winner. The majority of the money from television and radio rights is divided among the players’ benefit plan and the players on the four top teams in the league.

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