The NFL is discussing TV rights deals with its partners that could be for 10 years and far exceed $100 billion in total value, The Post has learned.
The end result could be mostly the status quo, except for Thursday nights where Amazon is emerging as a potential front-runner for the package.
Sources said the league and its current partners are working on frameworks for agreements that would keep the Sunday afternoon games on CBS and Fox, “Monday Night Football” on ESPN/ABC and “Sunday Night Football” on NBC. ESPN/ABC is expected to add Super Bowls when all is said and done.
The deals are not completed and the NFL could change course, but this is where it is trending, according to sources. The NFL is the highest-rated programming in television, which gives the league exceptional leverage, and they are expected to receive substantial increases over their current contracts.
With ABC/ESPN added to the Super Bowl rotation in 10-year contracts, the NFL may assign Super Bowls for just eight of those seasons. In this scenario, ABC/ESPN, NBC, CBS and Fox would receive two Super Bowls each. The NFL could auction off the final two Super Bowls at a later date if it goes with the 10-year term.
ABC/ESPN, owned by Disney, has wanted better games if it retains its Monday night schedule. There is a possibility of late-season flexible scheduling. Though the flexing would likely be more limited than for Sunday nights, it could be done to eliminate the MNF stinkers in December.
Some ESPN Monday night games are already simulcast on ABC, but that number could increase or become a weekly setup in the next contract.
The NFL declined comment.
The NFL currently approaches $10 billion a year in broadcast revenue. ESPN, Fox, CBS, NBC and DirecTV have contracts that add up to near $8 billion per season.
Amazon Prime becoming the main home of Thursday night football makes some sense. Sports Business Journal reported that the networks have told the NFL that they do not want Thursdays. CBS, NBC and Fox, the latter of which currently owns the rights, each have tried their hand at it.
Disney/ESPN/ABC has been looked upon as a contender to sign two packages, possibly adding Thursday, but they are focused on one at the moment. NBC Sports, with its strong production on Sunday, looks as if it could hold off ABC/ESPN’s interest in what has become the best primetime set of games.
The NFL could try to force one of the networks to take Thursday again. At this point in negotiations, though, that doesn’t seem like the likeliest scenario.
Amazon and Twitch will have an exclusive broadcast the day after Christmas of a game featuring the Cardinals and 49ers. The NFL will gauge how this is received. The game will be produced by CBS. An Amazon spokesperson did not return an email seeking comment.
Apple could be another digital player involved, but there is less buzz around that scenario at the moment. Amazon has the advantage of already being partners with the NFL. It owns the digital rights to “Thursday Night Football.” Those games also air on NFL Network.
Sunday NFL Ticket is also in play. It is not expected to remain on DirecTV. Amazon, ESPN+ and possibly Apple+ are seen as the leading candidates for the subscription rights to all the Sunday games. The NFL could sell this package to multiple carriers as opposed to DirecTV’s current exclusive contract for $1.5 billion per year.
The NFL is expected to have signed agreements with its partners in early 2021. ESPN’s MNF contract concludes at the end of the 2021-22 season, and the other three networks, as well as DirecTV, have their current rights through the 2022-23 campaign.