Unlike most members of the media, I’ve been feeling optimistic about the resumption of mediation in the NFL’s labor dispute.
But then I read the latest SportsBusiness Journal, which includes an article from John Ourand regarding a topic discussed at the recent World Congress of Sports.
AEG president and CEO Tim Leiweke is spearheading an effort to put the NFL back in L.A. And Leiweke sees an obscenely bright future for the NFL when it comes to TV rights.
“You can look at the NFL and bet the house they’re going to double their rights fees in the next negotiation,” Leiweke said.
Reminded of comments from CBS president and CEO Les Moonves from eight years earlier indicating that the “days of networks paying ever-escalating rights fees may be over,” Leiweke said, “That’s because he’s the guy paying.”
If the NFLPA* takes Leiweke’s words to heart, the NFLPA* will want far more than $161 million per team in salary and benefits for 2014, the first year of the next TV deal. At a minimum, the NFLPA* will want assurances that they’ll share in the revenues over and above the league’s paltry estimate of 2.5-percent growth for 2014.
Also, we can’t imagine the NFL being thrilled with Leiweke’s speculation. Really, why would Leiweke speak so candidly about a looming explosion in TV revenues, given that the finalization of a CBA will be, as a practical matter, essential to the completion of the labor deal?