NFL Prepares for Monumental TV Rights Deal After Pandemic Delayed Financial Discussions

Photo by Al Soot via Unsplash

NFL Prepares for Monumental TV Rights Deal After Pandemic Delayed Financial Discussions

By Movieguide® Staff

The NFL and top executives at ESPN, CBS, Fox, and NBC are discussing a monumental TV Network deal that, according to Variety, would “shatter industry records for rights fees.”

“The price tag for a deal spanning at least eight to 10 years is essentially double the fees charged for the various packages in the previous contract negotiations struck in 2011,” Variety reported.

Additionally, NFL executives hope to negotiate the renewal of NFC conference rights with Fox, AFC conference rights with CBS, the “Sunday Night Football” package with NBC, ESPN’s “Monday Night Football,” and “Thursday Night Football,” which all expire between 2021 and 2022. 

However, the pandemic shifted discussion rights and delayed any finalizations initially predicted to conclude as early as fall 2020.  

“I don’t want to go into the detail of the NFL negotiations that we continue to be in – we’ve been in for a while. We hope to bring those to a conclusion in the near to medium-term,” Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch said. 

Variety reported

A source close to the situation said the sides have been negotiating every other aspect of the proposed contract but the financial details. That has been taken as a strong indication that the league is focused on securing the status quo among its most important business partners. The one change sure to come is the sunset of DirecTV’s carriage of “NFL Sunday Ticket,” which allowed die-hard football fans the chance to view any game on the schedule regardless of location. The satcaster now owned by AT&T has had only downward momentum and is expected to give up the $1.5 billion “Sunday Ticket” franchise, which was one of the company’s biggest selling points at launch in 1994. That offering is expected to shift to a streaming option that the NFL Network will market directly to consumers, possibly in connection with a digital partner such as Amazon. DirecTV’s “Sunday Ticket” deal runs through the 2022 season.

Despite the lackluster viewership for the league’s most recent Super Bowl this month, NFL broadcasts continue to lead primetime television. 

However, if one thing was made clear from COVID-19, it is that direct-to-consumer entertainment dominated. Increasing prospects that streamers such as Disney+ could be the future for hosting sports. 

“We’ve had a long relationship with the NFL. If there’s a deal that will be accretive to shareholder value will certainly entertain that and look at that,” Disney CEO Bob Chapek noted. “Our first (priority) will be to look and say ‘Does it make sense for shareholder value going forward?’”