The NFL and its TV partners haven’t officially announced their new TV deals, but according to the Sports Business Journal, the deals are locked and loaded.
Overall, there won’t be many changes for fans. CBS, ESPN, Fox, and NBC are all retaining their existing packages. The NFL is getting their desired rate increases from CBS, Fox, and NBC, who will each reportedly pay around $2 billion per year for their package. ESPN will continue to pay more than the other networks (an estimated value between $2.4 billion and $2.6 billion), but the increase of somewhere in the realm of 20% to 30% is lower than the near 100% increases the other networks are dishing out. The length of all the deals is also still unknown.
Additionally, some (to what extent is currently unknown) Monday Night Football games will be simulcast on ABC with ESPN’s new deal, and ABC is also getting in on the Super Bowl rotation with the other three networks. The earliest they could air the game is 2024, with NBC airing Super Bowl LVI next year and Fox getting the 2023 game. ABC’s last Super Bowl came 15 years ago, when Al Michaels and John Madden called Super Bowl XL.
And then, there’s what I called the bicycle of NFL TV packages: Thursday Night Football. None of the broadcast networks wanted TNF. Thus, none of them will be getting the package – it’s moving to Amazon and NFL Network for an unknown amount of money. Who wants to bet the quality of games gets even worse now?
The one uncertain element is the future of NFL Sunday Ticket. Many suitors have been rumored, from existing rightsholder DirecTV to ESPN+ to Paramount+ (which is what CBS All Access will be called next week) to Peacock to Amazon to even DAZN. DirecTV’s deal with the NFL ends after the 2022 season, so there’s no urgency to get something done quite yet, but I’m slightly surprised it wasn’t part of this bonanza of rights agreements.