In 2006, Monday Night Football shifted from ABC to sister-company ESPN, which is paying $1.1 billion per year for the right to televise 17 regular-season games, but no Super Bowls or playoff games.
According to John Ourand of SportsBusiness Journal, the NFL and ESPN are closing in on an extension. Ourand reports that ESPN will increase its annual fee by 40 percent.
As Ourand points out, the current ESPN deal is worth $8.8 billion over eight years, making it a contract worth $1.1 billion annually. A 40-percent increase translates to a total value of $1.54 billion. But Ourand writes that the new contract will be worth between $1.8 billion and $1.9 billion per year, and the attention-grabbing headline says the agreement will be worth “nearly $2 billion.”
It looks like it’s actually worth “roughly $1.5 billion.”
Per Ourand, the contract won’t put cable television (or ABC) in the Super Bowl rotation, but it could carve off a wild-card game for ESPN at some point in the future. The league, as Ourand observes, has resisted putting playoff games on non-broadcast television.
ESPN also would retain rights to televise highlights and the annual draft. Ourand points out that the league had been considering making the early rounds exclusive to NFL Network, a move that in our view would have triggered fan outrage given the still-limited availability of NFL Network.
Broadband and mobile rights also are part of the discussions, which likely accounts for a chunk of the sharp increase. Verizon currently has the exclusive right to stream games over mobile devices.
UPDATE: Ourand has amended his numbers. The gross dollar figure of $1.8 billion to $1.9 billion per year was accurate. The correct percentage increase is 65 to 70 percent.