There were two things that pops up for me;
1. Thinking that satellite and cable are the only legit options for the NFL are not in tune with the trend by Americans to watch more tv online.
2. If DTV loses NFL ST will this be an opening for Charlie E. to acquire his main competition? Without the NFL doesn't DTV value decrease significantly.
The trend is more online viewing, but the vast majority is still TV-based, for lack of a better term. Plus, NFL ST has a different audience. Going forward I absolutely see an online component staying part of NFLST and maybe even becoming more prominent (for example getting split out from DirecTV and being offered standalone), but the MVPD based distribution will stick around for a long time yet. Think about sports bars that need every game in HD, or the hard core fans who watch every game at once. Internet viewing cannot sustain that. Plus, the sheer numbers of people who are still on cable/satellite still just trumps internet viewing.
And as it comes to a merger with Dish, I don't think NFLST has anything to do with it. Last time around it was denied on regulatory grounds. It's $1 billion either way, and yes DirecTV has the rights but they paid for it, so it's not a significant net gainer or loser in terms of book value