The NFL is clearly the dominant league in American sports. Today’s news about the league’s gargantuan new media rights deal reinforces that. The league has reached an agreement with five networks/broadcast partners: Amazon, CBS, NBC, ESPN/ABC and FOX, running from 2023-33.
The NFL will make a reported $110 billion over the life of the deal, per the league’s announcement. Amazon takes over exclusive rights to Thursday Night Football, after years of testing out NFL broadcasts. It also opens up the ability for ESPN/ABC to flex Monday Night Football matchups, which should help the network avoid some of the mediocre games that have plagued that broadcast in recent years.
ESPN/ABC also jump back into the Super Bowl rotation. It will broadcast the game in 2026 and 2030, following years from CBS, FOX, and NBC. The Disney networks only get two of the 11 years announced, though they’d be next up if there is an extension of this current layout.
As jarring as those numbers are, they shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. For all of the issues that have popped up for the NFL, it is still the biggest sport in the country by a large margin. These five networks can’t be the only ones that wanted in on the action.
ESPN's new #NFL rights agreement is expansive in every way. Our first Super Bowl will be SB LXI to conclude the 2026 season, and I'm already looking forward to the first-ever 61-hour pregame show: https://t.co/T2T76NRyNF
Our NFL Live crew is pretty happy too. pic.twitter.com/QLwxqikiYE
— bill hofheimer (@bhofheimer_espn) March 18, 2021
Amazon effectively doubled down on Fox’s current TNF fee, offering some $1.32 billion per year for the package, which works out to a cool $14.5 billion. https://t.co/mNDAf9uMVD pic.twitter.com/jBxQVLjGEz
— Sportico (@Sportico) March 18, 2021
NFL basically doubling what they make on TV rights fees from previous deals. That's what happens when you have 71 of the top 100 tv broadcasts in a year… https://t.co/mhVRQtrR41
— Kevin Wheeler (@KevinWheeler94) March 18, 2021
The announcement has pretty big implications for the networks’ new over the top platforms like Paramount+ (CBS) and Peacock (NBC), where some games will be able to be streamed. So far, we don’t have new information on what lies ahead for the popular Sunday Ticket service provided by DirecTV either. Earlier today, WFAN’s Craig Carton reported that ESPN+ had landed Sunday Ticket, but that does not appear to be the case, at least as of now.
This new NFL rights deal suggests the TV networks are putting a lot of faith in cord-cutters not caring or knowing how to use TV antennas.
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) March 18, 2021
There is no deal on Sunday Ticket. https://t.co/0R1FQdGXEC
— Andrew Marchand (@AndrewMarchand) March 18, 2021
This year, we saw the NFL salary cap take an eight-percent dive, leading to a squeeze for a number of teams and players. This huge influx of money should indicate that the cap is ready to surge back up, which is good news for free agents-to-be over the next few years.
NFL media deals worth $10 billion a year, per @AP.
That is over $300M per team, just from media.
The player Salary Cap is now $182M, may not reach $300M for many years. What a business..
— Andrew Brandt (@AndrewBrandt) March 18, 2021
The NFL's new multimedia rights for TV and streaming–with Amazon now having the Thursday night package–begins in 2023. That should be when the salary cap rises sharply. https://t.co/uc8A9Oo7fJ
— Gregg Bell (@gbellseattle) March 18, 2021
Today’s news has huge ramifications for the sport going forward in a number of aspects, but it is definitely a good one for Roger Goodell and his cohorts.