Boomer Esiason

Former ESPN president John Skipper recently said the NFL should consider turning the Super Bowl into a pay-per-view event. But Boomer Esiason doesn’t think football fans have to worry, because the U.S. government has their back.

Skipper joined Dan Le Batard’s The Big Suey Podcast this week and the former ESPN president said the NFL is missing out on billions of dollars by not putting the Super Bowl on pay-per-view. WFAN’s morning show discussed the idea on Friday, with Boomer Esiason telling co-host Gregg Giannotti that Congress would fight it.

“The NFL has antitrust exemption,” Esiason noted. “[Skipper] can say that, but there’s no way Congress is gonna allow that to happen. I don’t see that ever happening.”

“I understand what he’s talking about,” Esiason said of Skipper’s big idea to earn the NFL billions by transforming the way we consume the Super Bowl. “He’s all about executive thinking, about making money and more money. I think there would be a major legal fight if that happened…there would be a class action lawsuit, most likely, probably challenging the antitrust exemption that the NFL enjoys.”

The NFL has been the beneficiary of an antitrust exemption from Congress since the 1960s. When the NFL received the exemption, it was meant to benefit the general public by requiring every team’s game to be aired in their home market. But more than a half-century later, that exemption, which allows teams to act as a joint entity, has helped the league land massive broadcasting deals.

Without the exemption, which also prevents competitors from infringing on the NFL’s product, each individual team would need to negotiate their own broadcast deal, as pooling their rights into one entity would violate antitrust laws against monopolization.

“Just remember the antitrust exemption that the NFL is afforded,” Esiason reiterated. “There will be senators and congresspeople, there’s just no way.”

NFL fans won’t have to worry about a fight to put the Super Bowl on pay-per-view until 2035 at the earliest, because the league’s current rights deals run through the 2033 season. The idea of the NFL taking the largest annual TV event and eliminating more than half its audience to put the game behind a paywall sounds like a PR nightmare, although it’s tough to predict what the television landscape will look like in 2035.


About Brandon Contes

Brandon Contes is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously helped carve the sports vertical for Mediaite and spent more than three years with Barrett Sports Media. Send tips/comments/complaints to