NFL media deals An AA illustration of NFL great Patrick Mahomes and many of the NFL’s broadcast partners.

Earlier this week, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio ruminated on the idea that the National Football League will undo all of its current television deals early. The NFL’s running laundry list of deals is expected to expire in 2033. Florio, however, suggested that the league could “pull the plug” on that four years ahead of that in 2029.

“The looming gold mine for the NBA will make the NFL see even larger dollar signs for its next wave of contracts,” Florio wrote.

Florio makes a good point. The NBA is about to cash out on big deals, potentially leaving Warner Bros. Discovery after a near-forty-year relationship, and flip a significant switch.

Roger Goodell and the NFL are no doubt paying attention to this. Enter the suggestion that they could pull the plug early.

Here’s why that move would make sense.

Streamers have shelled out the big bucks

In the last few years, streaming has become a constant fixture in the marketplace. The NFL is not absent from this. Amazon, Netflix, and Peacock have all paid the league a lot of money for exclusive game rights. Netflix is airing games on Christmas (reportedly a whopping $150 million for their pair of games)) ; Amazon has Thursday Night Football, and Amazon will reportedly $150 million for a single playoff game a year after Peacock’s exclusive playoff game helped them generate a lot of new subscribers.

The takeaway is that streaming companies are tripping over themselves to add NFL games to their service. With all that money out there, the NFL could choose to reassess things and carve out more games to make available to these streamers.

Last year’s massive TV ratings

The NFL erupted last season with massive television ratings across the board. CBS posted the network’s best numbers for their NFL coverage since the 20th century. Literally. 1998 was the last time the network posted better ratings than they got this year. Peyton Manning was merely a rookie. They averaged 19.345 million viewers, a whopping number.

The league made history at nearly every turn. They’re the hottest show on television since their last game. Obviously, that’s hard to turn down, and for the networks, they know just how valuable they are. That gives the league quite a bit of leverage there.

The market is going up, up, and away…

Live sports are still dominating the media rights game. We’ve written extensively on the NBA and their pending rights deals, and that will have a massive impact on the market. The top of the market for sports rights, seems to be faring quite well as the Big Ten and NBA have had plenty of a bubbly marketplace when their deals were being negotiated.

The NFL is the most prized possession any channel or service can have. Instead of waiting to the 2033 season, it’s hard to see the NFL not wanting to be back at the table squeezing the networks and services for higher rights fees.

The 18-game season

Yep. As unsavory as it is, it’s probably coming down the pipe. With the possibility of added inventory that is not spoken for in the current contracts, the possibility of moving to a 18 game regular season or even expansion (more teams= more games), the league would likely want to get back to the negotiating table with more games to spread around to streamers.

So there you have it. It’s very possible that we’re only a handful of years away from going through covering this process play out again!

About Chris Novak

Chris Novak has been talking and writing about sports ever since he can remember. Previously, Novak wrote for and managed sites in the SB Nation network for nearly a decade from 2013-2022