Person watching football with remote control
Person watching football with remote control - 
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Kai Ryssdal: While the wrangling goes on and on in Washington over the debt ceiling, there's news today of another deal the American people have been waiting for. The NFL Players Association has approved -- in principle -- a new deal with league owners. This means the four-and-a-half month lockout is over and there will be football this fall, ready or not?

What? What's that sound you're hearing? A big sigh of relief from television executives. Here's Marketplace's Jeff Horwich.

Jeff Horwich: At every major network, it's time to sound the trumpets. ESPN Monday Night Football, Fox NFL Sunday, the NFL on CBS and NBC Sunday Night Football. Along with DirectTV, the networks pay $4 billion a year to carry NFL games. That spins out into an estimated $12 billion of economic activity -- a big chunk of which is ad revenues.

Brad Adgate is with Horizon Media.

Brad Adgate: Those ratings are irreplaceable. There is nothing the networks can put on that can come remotely close to what the NFL brings to advertisers and viewers.

One in every 10 U.S. homes is watching ESPN's Monday Night Football. Sunday night games allows struggling NBC to remain relevant. At a time of fracturing TV audiences, Adgate says the NFL is the exception.

Adgate: They really avoided a revenue and financial catastrophe for a lot of people by getting this done relatively quickly.

Football is so hard to replace, the networks didn't even bother with a backup plan for advertisers. Darren Marshall is with the sports marketing agency "rEvolution."

Darren Marshall: The way that they've proceeded with this is to basically pretend that the lockout didn't exist. You might have thought that advertisers would have avoided the NFL because of the uncertainty, but ad sales in the NFL are at record levels.

Marshall expects the networks to bid considerably more when broadcast rights are up for renewal in 2013. That's good news for the players, whose new contract gets them a much bigger cut of that money.

I'm Jeff Horwich for Marketplace.

Follow Jeff Horwich at @jeffhorwich