TV negotiations continue to hover over CBA talks

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The NFL and NFL Players Association are working toward a new Collective Bargaining Agreement not because a new league year is coming but because something far more significant is in the pipeline: A new round of TV deals.

A recent item from Andrew Beaton of the Wall Street Journal echoes concepts that have been articulated here, on PFT Live, and on #PFTPM in recent weeks. The league and the union want to get a labor agreement in place so that the league can then turn to extending the various broadcast-rights contracts, before the NFL’s bargaining position in that context is weakened by a ratings dip fueled by the presidential election, by an economic downturn, or both.

That’s the core wisdom of NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith’s ongoing effort to get the Executive Committee (which seems to be on board), two thirds of the board of player representatives (which remains not an easy sell), and at least half of the rank and file plus one (which will likely go along if/when it comes to it) to accept the pending CBA proposal premised on 17 games. Smith knows from experience in 2011 that the players ultimately won’t miss game checks. Which means that the players ultimately will take the best deal that’s on the table on the brink of the 2021 preseason/regular season. Which means that the players should just take the best deal that’s on the table now.

Which remains a delicate proposition when the time comes to explain it to the players. If the players believe that their resolve is being doubted or that their courage is being questioned, they could decide to refuse the deal simply to prove that they’re not weak. Even if, in the end, they’d be in a much weaker spot.

Indeed, here’s the best reason take the best deal that’s on the table now. If the TV deals aren’t as good as the league thinks they’ll be if the TV deals can be accomplished within the next few months, the eventually shortfall won’t be shared by the league and the players. The players likely will pay for the bulk of the money lost via the lost opportunity to get the TV deals done, in the form of a financial package that passes on to the players the reduced revenue resulting from networks willing to pay less in the aftermath of declining ratings in 2020 and/or shrunken budgets triggered by a recession.

That’s why Smith is trying to get it done now, and that’s why it’s smart to do so. It’s also why players who are inclined to huff and puff about not playing 17 games need to realize that, if they’re not willing to blow the house down over adding an extra regular-season game, a delay could result in getting their ox gored.

14 responses to “TV negotiations continue to hover over CBA talks

  1. Interesting take. All a big maybe. After this season direct tv will not only lose Season ticket but they will be absorbed into ATT

  2. It would seem only fair for the NFL to offer the Season Ticket to more providers. It’s not fair being stuck with Direct TV as the only choice!

  3. They should offer by games, having the ticket paying full and not being able to watch most games broadcast at same time

  4. If only the players would realize that they have complete power here. These billionaire owners didn’t become billionaires by losing money, they hate losing money and a lockout would hurt their precious pocket books and NFL sponsors. It creates a large scale mess for the league, but simpleton smith will get hosed by the nfl yet again and yet again players will be left complaining about the bad deal they signed. Players can blame themselves for growing up poor, yet not having a single clue how to save million dollar salaries for a rainy day. Shame on them!

  5. Whenever I read stories like this I’m reminded of one of Aesop’s Fables:”The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs”.

    Sooner or later one side or the other will slay the goose.

  6. If players were truly acting in their best interest, they would strike until contracts were guaranteed.

  7. The players really don’t have that much power. Sure, the NFL runs on its stars, but the owners have shown in the past that they’re willing to lock the players out and field scrub teams.

    I think there are limited items the players can choose to fight for. If I were them I’d push for guaranteed money in contracts: fully guaranteed deals are a long way off, probably, but what about every contract having at least 25% or 50% or some amount guaranteed (whatever that percentage ultimately becomes)?

    Second: bigger roster sizes with more players suiting up on game days. This would not only mean more NFL jobs, but would be a bonus for player safety and provide rosters with more depth.

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