The COVID-19 situation has turned the world upside down, and it’s caused certain aspects of American business to be back-burnered. The NFL and the networks, however, won’t table indefinitely the negotiations on new TV deals.
Citing multiple unnamed sources, John Ourand of Sports Business Journal reports that the networks are still preparing to negotiate those deals in the coming months. The expectation is that formal negotiations will happen within the next three months.
Some have wondered whether the economic damage from the ongoing crisis may cause the networks to wait. The existence of more interested networks than available packages may prevent that from happening; any network that chooses to delay could be left out in the cold.
As the new CBA moved toward ratification, some believed that the NFL already had a deal lined up to expand its current relationship with Disney, by moving Monday Night Football from ESPN to ABC, by adding a package for ESPN (presumably, Thursday Night Football), and possibly by finagling a streaming component for ESPN+. The theory is that the new deal would be the final triumph of now-former Disney CEO Robert Iger, who has remained with the company as “executive chairman focused on creative endeavors.”
The ongoing stock-market crash could make it difficult for the publicly-traded parent companies of the various networks to justify making multi-billion-dollar commitments. If they won’t, however, the streaming companies may step up. Indeed, some still believe that the NFL may consider selling all rights based on window (early Sunday, late-afternoon Sunday, Sunday night, Monday night, Thursday night, playoff rounds, etc.) and then relying on these larger corporations to sell broadcast and streaming rights separately.