The NFL’s current media deals are set to expire after 2022, but as negotiations have unfolded with the current rightsholders and other outlets, it’s becoming clear that not much is going to change with core rights.
CBS, NBC, and Fox all look set to hold on to their current packages, which limits the moving parts remaining. Those include ESPN’s rights, as well as the Thursday package, which remain up in the air.
The situation was summed up nicely here by CNBC’s Jabari Young, who reports that the deal would be done already if not for the Thursday issue:
One of the individuals suggested part of the holdup to finalizing a new agreement is the NFL finding a new home for the Thursday Night Football package, which Fox currently holds but could drop the deal when it ends in 2023.
There’s speculation a streaming service such as Amazon could bid on the package. But with Fox, CBS and NBC no longer interested in simulcasting the game on a third-party streaming service, Amazon would have to find another partner to produce the game.
There is a possibility that ESPN could take on the Thursday Night Football game and air the game on ABC. But that would mean helping a rival streaming service as it tries to grow its own ESPN+ offering.
Two of the people said all of the media rights deals would’ve been finalized in December had the Thursday package been resolved.
ESPN has also been hoping to find a way into the Super Bowl rotation for a while now, and may also want to include games on ABC. There’s also the issue of Sunday Ticket, which DirecTV looks likely to give up, at least as an exclusive offering. Beyond that, though, the league seems pretty much set, and they also have incentive to iron out the final package.
As Young notes, the league wants it done in order to finalize the salary cap ahead of this offseason:
The NFL is looking to finalize frameworks of new TV rights agreements in the next few weeks and wants to do so before setting the 2021 salary cap figure in March, according to people with knowledge of the situation.