Last week, news broke that the debuting Alliance of American Football had struck a deal with CBS for distribution.
Now, according to a report from John Ourand at Sports Business Daily, the AAF will also have games on TNT and B/R Live thanks to a deal with Turner, while also airing multiple games a week on NFL Network.
The Turner deal will see TNT televise one regular season and one playoff game each season. This season, TNT will carry its game (Salt Lake Stallions-Birmingham Iron) on Feb. 16 as a lead-in to NBA All-Star Saturday Night.
Turner’s B/R Live will carry a weekly game, starting Feb. 23 with the Arizona Hotshots-Stallions. AAF co-Founder & CEO Charlie Ebersol said, “We wanted two things. We wanted reach, which we have with TNT. And we wanted to look to the future of media, which we got with B/R Live.” The NFL Network deal is expected to be announced separately from the Turner one. As part of its deal, NFL Network committed to carrying two games per week, sources said.
The TNT side of the deal is obviously the flashier one, but considering TNT will carry just two games total (albeit with one in a relatively high-visibility slot on NBA All-Star Weekend), it’s maybe the NFL Network side of the deal that could end up being the more impactful one as the AAF tries to build an audience. The AAF (and maybe to a slightly lesser extent the returning XFL) is built entirely on the premise that there’s more demand than supply for professional football.
Presumably a large base of that supply can be found in dedicated NFL fans, a group of people perhaps most likely to have access to or interest in the NFL Network, which is where a lot of AAF inventory will be shown. The NFL, meanwhile, gets to draft slightly off of whatever success the AAF has as a supplemental product. Hard to see a downside.
B/R Live, meanwhile, does offer a venture into streaming, but it is admittedly tough to see a scenario (at least right now) where someone without B/R Live access would sign up solely for the one AAF game per week. But it is a way for the AAF to potentially get in front of viewers who already subscribe. The deal means the AAF will have games on CBS, CBSSN, TNT, NFL Network, and B/R Live, a wide array of broadcasters for a startup league.
If it doesn’t work out, it won’t be thanks to a lack of distribution.