NFL Is Key to the Massive AT&T-DirecTV deal

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The National Football League could end up being the real winner as AT&T tries to buy DirecTV for $48.5 billion, and Comcast looks to purchase Time Warner Cable for $45 billion, BTIG media and technology analyst Rich Greenfield said in a CNBC interview Monday.

The Sunday Ticket package—which provides subscribers access to all NFL games—has been "one of the big drivers of value for DirecTV," Greenfield said.

This is the last season with DirecTV. "Normally, it would have been renewed by now. I think with the Comcast-Time Warner transaction in process the NFL is waiting," he said in a "Squawk Box" interview.

Maybe AT&T can give DirecTV the firepower to get the Sunday Ticket renewed, he added. "If they were to lose that package, that would have been catastrophic."

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This deal also makes sense for DirecTV as its older satellite technology falls behind cable.

"When you think about DirecTV, they were missing a very important ingredient as you look into the future of the whole media and telecommunications-tech space. They had no broadband," Greenfield said.

Concerns about growth was a main driver for AT&T going after DirecTV, said Walter Piecyk, Greenfield's BTIG colleague on wireless research.

"Eighty percent of [AT&T's] base already has smartphones. So I think they look forward and say, 'We're going to run out of growth.' They're a big company. Here's basically another way to buy some revenue, buy some dividend payments," he said on CNBC.

Many analysts, including Piecyk, believe that AT&T is trying to secure its dividend—a move the company said was not a factor in pursuing DirecTV.