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NFL Net Signs 75 Distributors

Service Electric Cable TV Inc., Blue Ridge Communications and telco Qwest Communications International Inc. are among 75 small and midsized operators that will carry NFL Network's new eight-game Thursday- and Saturday-night package of National Football League games as part of new deals they struck with the 35 million-subscriber sports service, according to network officials.

The distributors join DirecTV Inc. in reaching new carriage pacts that include the $300 million, eight-game package, which begins Thanksgiving night.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed – nor would the pro football league’s network release any additional operator names -- but network executives said the deals mandate distributors to place the service on highly-penetrated expanded basic tiers.

Officials at NFL Network would not comment on its affiliate fees, but executives close to the service say it ranges between 50 cents to 75 cents, a substantial increase over its previous rate card calling for between 20 and 25 cents per month.