John Skipper Meadowlark Media Super Bowl Screen grab: The Sporting Class

On multiple occasions, John Skipper has boldly predicted that at some point, the Super Bowl will be behind a paywall.

But while the Meadowlark Media CEO’s prognosis — which he first publicly made in 2021 — was initially met with skepticism, now such a move appears to be all but inevitable.

So much so that Skipper is now moving up the potential timeline for it happening. While the former ESPN president had initially believed that the Super Bowl would be taken off traditional airwaves at some point after the league’s current TV rights deal expires following the 2032 season, he now believes that it will ultimately occur before then.

“I would have thought that pay-per-view for the Super Bowl would be on the outside of that deal,” Skipper said on Friday’s episode of The Sporting Class. “I now that think in the life of the deal, the Super Bowl will go pay-per-view.”

Asked by co-host David Samson to clarify whether he meant pay-per-view or paywall, Skipper said he could see either, before stating his belief that the Super Bowl would first be available behind a streaming service’s paywall, before later landing on pay-per-view.

“Depending on who owns the Super Bowl, it would be more or less valuable to put it behind a paywall and get subscribers,” Skipper said. “After you have the consolidation of streaming services and big broadcast companies, that’s when it will actually go pay-per-view I think. So you’re looking at three-to-four years.”

Even Skipper admitted that his initial theory was more of an off-the-cuff attempt to fulfill a request to give a bold prediction than it was something he had strong convection about at the time. But in the three years since he first forecasted the future of the Super Bowl, his theory has only gained steamed, with NBC’s Peacock hosting the NFL’s first-ever streaming-exclusive playoff game earlier this year.

While Peacock airing the Wild Card round matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins was controversial for some fans, it was also a massive success. And that’s only made Skipper’s prediction look more prophetic — even if it was one he had initially made on a whim.

[The Sporting Class]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.