This NFL season’s ratings haven’t been as strong as last year’s which broke a slew of ratings records. But the NFL continues to be the most potent TV sports franchise by a mile. So the National Football League and the broadcast, cable and satellite networks are close to whopping deals stretching through 2021 that would give the league a 60% increase over current fees. That’s $6 billion a year or more from all its media “partners,” according to the industry trade publication Sports Business Daily and the Wall Street Journal.
The deals are with News Corp’s Fox, Comcast’s NBC, and CBS as well as DirecTV and Disney’s ESPN. Broadcast network share of the yearly fees will amount to about $3.2 billion. ESPN’s share will be about $1.9 billion per season under the league’s separate $15.2 billion deal with the cable network for “Monday Night Football” which also lasts through 2021. (ABC suffered significant drops in ratings when Disney opted to shift Monday Night Football to ESPN.) DirecTV pays roughly $1 billion a year to offer its Sunday Ticket that covers all Sunday afternoon games and some other NFL programming.
NFL coverage is also a huge factor for local TV stations, not only for network-owned stations but for affiliates owned by other companies that have to pay the networks for the rights to carry their programming. In turn cable systems and satellite providers have to fork over what are known as retransmission consent fees when they carry local stations from every market where the systems operate. NFL football is a huge bargaining chip in these overall negotiations. Disputes over fees sometimes result in threatened or literal disruptions of service on cable or satellite services that play out in news coverage tugs-of-war with networks. League and media executives have been working to complete the agreements before the holidays.