CBS plans to “do what is necessary” to keep its NFL rights

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The NFL’s Sunday afternoon and evening TV deals last until 2022. CBS already is talking about keeping its relationship with the league in place beyond that.

CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus said that the NFL “has been very good for CBS” during a Thursday earnings call, via the Wall Street Journal. The NFL contributed to a fourth-quarter CBS profit of $561 million; the year before, CBS lost $41 million during the October-December window.

McManus also said during the earnings call that CBS will “do what is necessary” to keep its relationship with the NFL beyond 2022.

The wild-card for the Sunday packages come 2022 could be ABC, which may try to get back in the game more than 15 years after seeing Monday Night Football shift to its sister network, ESPN. Looming over the entire broadcasting model are megatech companies like Amazon and Google, which could in theory grossly overpay for NFL rights.

Still, the NFL realizes the value of three-letter network broadcast TV, given that millions still rely on free, over-the-air signals that can be viewed without the benefit of cable, satellite, or Internet. That’s why games on NBC, CBS, and FOX continue to draw the biggest live crowds, and why that won’t be changing any time soon.

Sooner or later, the network contracts will be rebid and possibly reconfigured. At the end of the day, it’s hard to imagine the NFL not getting paid billions for what amounts to a maximum-audience infomercial on the networks that enjoy the broadest reach.

8 responses to “CBS plans to “do what is necessary” to keep its NFL rights

  1. whichever networks sign deals with the NFL, I hope they do not restrict their broadcasts to pay TV. I like it when most college bowl games no longer clog the air waves during the holidays but I do miss the national championship game. Even the NCAA basketball championship game is shown only on pay tv.

  2. There is also NBC. The Network used to broadcast AFC games, now being broadcast by CBS. CBS used to broadcast NFC games until they were outbid by Fox. May be CBS will outbid Fox and broadcast NFC games again, and may be NBC will outbid Fox or CBS and broadcast NFC or AFC games. It will be interesting to see who ends up with what.

  3. If you ask me, the NFL was at its best when all the games were televised by CBS and NBC. And I wish the NFL and AFL had never merged too, and CBS had the NFL and NBC had the AFL. I thought it was a lot more fun to have two leagues and a Super Bowl with the winners of each league playing in it.
    Once teams started playing every other team, I think the drama wore off a lot. I mean, years ago the Giants and Jets used to play in pre-season and it was actually a big deal for the fans for bragging rights. Now they play during the season once in a while and it’s just another game.

  4. I just hope the games stay on broadcast TV. My location allows me to tune in stations from 4 cities- that’s 4 CBSs and 4 FOXes- and that means I get a lot of extra games. As long as they don’t screw up my scot-free Sunday Ticket workaround, I’m good.

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