Ratings increase leaves NFL less urgent to get new labor deal done

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The Collective Bargaining Agreement expires after the 2020 season. The TV deals begin to expire after the 2021 season, with the Monday Night Football contract up for grabs. (The rest of them run out the next year.) And the NFL recently has shown less urgency to get a new labor deal done.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the NFL previously had wanted to get a new labor deal in place by the next Super Bowl. The league has since cooled considerably in that regard, fueled by the league’s happiness with the 2018 ratings performance.

And that’s one of the reasons why the NFL is banging the ratings drum so hard. The uptick gives the league more leverage as it tries to get its customary spike in TV revenue for the next round of contracts, which in turn allows the league to feel less compelled to bend to the union a bit in order to be able to sell labor peace deep into the next decade to the broadcast partners.

As a result, look for the league and the union to be more likely to let the new CBA expire or come close to it. Unless the ratings take another dive, causing the NFL to revisit its position on getting the labor deal done quickly.