Disney, NFL have a gap of more than $1 billion per year in their initial positions

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As the NFL works toward extending all TV deals for another 10 years, the network with which the league must do the most work is ESPN.

Disney, the parent company of ESPN and ABC, has balked at the NFL’s demands. According to John Ourand of Sports Business Journal, the NFL initially asked for $3.5 billion per year for Monday Night Football. That would represent a 75-percent increase over ESPN’s current annual average of $2 billion.

Per Ourand, ESPN offered $2.4 billion per year, a 20-percent bump over the current amount.

Common sense suggests that the two sides will meet in the middle, possibly at $2.95 billion per year. If, after all, ESPN put $2.4 billion on the table knowing that the NFL wanted $3.5 billion, it could easily be argued that ESPN knew or should have known that the two numbers would set up a final agreement at the midpoint.

But that’s hardly a hard-and-fast method for bridging a financial gap. ESPN may stop short of $2.95 billion, especially if no other network is ready to pilfer the rights to Monday nights. Then there’s the question of whether new Disney CEO Bob Chapek would walk away from NFL rights — and the question of whether Disney can make the NFL think that Chapek would.

It’s high-stakes poker, to be sure. The NFL always drives a hard bargain because it has a great product that gathers eyeballs like nothing else. And the NFL has always managed to have one other willing bidder to leverage all other networks to pay whatever the NFL wants.

Currently, which network would provide the NFL with the leverage needed to get ESPN to pay more than it’s willing to pay? If there isn’t one, ESPN could be in a position to get a deal closer to $2.4 billion than $3.5 billion.

63 responses to “Disney, NFL have a gap of more than $1 billion per year in their initial positions

  1. I’m sorry but I just don’t see the value in Espn paying that much… They are a dying brand since there are numerous YouTubers who do a better job than them at their house. A few games a year won’t change that.

  2. 3.9B for mediocre games isn’t worth it. They give NBC the best games. Networks will end up paying.

  3. Disney could up viewership if it had it’s own version of Nikolodeon’s Slime Splashdown TDs – maybe cartoon banana skins under coaches making bad calls, or players who fumble/drop.

  4. You said it best that they are doing “the must work.” That sounds like a euphemism for under the table action

  5. Getting the NFL away from ESPN and ABC would be the greatest thing ever for football.

  6. If I were the NFL I would say to Disney this is a take it or leave it offer (they will negotiate down anyway put this tells Disney that we aren’t meeting in the middle).

    ESPN is practically worthless without football and it is true that a lot of college ball (a very lucrative product) is broadcast by ESPN if the NFL finds someone (Hello Amazon) for MNF willing to pay the price how long do you think it will take the Power 5 to approach the same party?

    But on Disney’s part they may no longer be interested in carrying sports as they may not see the value of the product to their core earnings.

  7. ESPN will pass the costs on to cable providers who will pass the cost on to those who have not cut the cord yet.

  8. as more people ‘pull the cable tv plug’ espn loses 7 dollars per subscriber. Most cable tv owners never watched espn- but they still paid for it. What good does it do espn to pay more and still keep losing subscribers. Disney will not overpay and will probably sell espn for peanuts

  9. Just wait till Jerry Jones starts his Dallas Cowboy streaming network. The big three will in big trouble.

  10. The nFL has also been known to take less from a competitor in order to stick it to a partner who wants to leverage them.

    Fact is, there is a reason ESPN paid so much for the package to begin with, and that reason has become even more pronounced as their viewership has sagged.

    ESPN will take a huge hit if they no longer hold rights to the biggest game in town…..Disney can try to fool themselves all they want.

  11. If ESPN loses MNF does that mean that we wont be paying $6 a month on cable just for ESPN?!?! Probably wont make a difference… but guess what if they pay more for MNF, ESPN WILL up the price.

  12. Don’t cave. In the midst of dual pandemics, Disney has nearly doubled its market valuation at the expense of their customers. If they want to keep a piece of the NFL, make them pay.

  13. Crazy idea but pitch it to CBS. NBC gets Sunday night, FOX gets Thursday night, CBS gets Monday night. ESPN is losing viewers why not just put the games on networks that aren’t going anywhere?

  14. ESPN has been a death spiral for a decade. On the other hand, the NFL’s price is insane. MNF sucks and has for years.

  15. “Common sense suggests that the two sides will meet in the middle, possibly at $2.95 billion per year. ”

    ESPN may end up paying more the $2.4 billion, but I’d be shocked if they (or anyone else) paid $2.95 billion. If someone offers me $400,000 for my house and I counter with $1 million, it is not common sense that we will settle for $700,000.

  16. Basically ESPN is paying about $10-$11 per viewer per game. There are 63 minutes (average) per game of commercials which probably sell for 500-700K for a 30 second slot. So say its 600K per 30 second commercial its 1.21 Billion of revenue per season. Why would a network spend 2 Billion to secure rights to the games when they still have a revenue shortfall? Nevermind production costs which is probably another 50 million annually.

    Data:
    Average Monday night viewers 17.4 Million viewers per game x 16 games = 278 million viewers per season. 3 Billion

  17. Almost everything Disney touches gets destroyed. Just go through the list. They ruined ESPN, ABC, Fox, A&E, Star Wars, FX, the History Channel, Touchstone Pictures, and even their own live action remakes.

  18. ESPN will cave eventually. They don’t really have a choice as the NFL is the only thing that keeps them relevant. They get a fraction of the viewership for their other properties and have already suffered big time losses resulting in layoffs so losing the NFL would be a disaster for them.

  19. Not a fan of Disney or ESPN, but it’s time that a network stands up to the NFL.

  20. Amazon, Netflix, Apple, Twitter, Facebook – there are other platforms that I could see jockey for MNF now that a broadcast signal is pretty much irrelevant to reaching your viewers. Seems like a no-brainer for a platform looking to expand its subscriber base.

  21. Ratings are sagging…not sure even a 20% bump is warranted here…ESPN gets the worst games as is. Less practices, less preseason, and more games is going to result in a deteriorating product.

  22. Why do we even need ESPN? Their broadcasting is terrible. I wish we could select our team and stream the games we want to see each week as opposed to having to get a satellite dish or being forced specific games.

  23. That’s billion with a “B”. If you make $50K per year that is 20,000 times your annual pay. And this is looking at three times that or 60,000 times your annual pay. And this is one contract for TV. Add in endorsements, sponsor fees, ticket sales, merchandise………… Boggles the mind to wonder how they can make ends meet…………hmmmmm…..

  24. Never mind $3.5b, for the more expected $2.4b, ESPN could become the dominant leader in all other sports minus professional football and potentially turn its brand around. That’s a reasonable trade-off for losing less than 20 games and some 80-hours of broadcasting content.

  25. Joseph Osso says:
    February 23, 2021 at 3:25 pm
    Why do we even need ESPN? Their broadcasting is terrible. I wish we could select our team and stream the games we want to see each week as opposed to having to get a satellite dish or being forced specific games.
    —————————————-
    You can and it’s free. But, it’s illegal. But… you can.

  26. wlubake says:
    February 23, 2021 at 2:16 pm

    Amazon, Netflix, Apple, Twitter, Facebook – there are other platforms that I could see jockey for MNF now that a broadcast signal is pretty much irrelevant to reaching your viewers. Seems like a no-brainer for a platform looking to expand its subscriber base.

    ————————————————————————-

    How any of those platforms could generate enough revenue to justify $3 billion/year is certainly not a no-brainer.

  27. remember when football was enjoyable?
    .
    been a while… and I’m a chiefs fan, my team may never have been better…
    .
    ill still be catching the games i bother to watch on YouTube

  28. They’ll come to an agreement. Someone will blink first and I’m sure MNF will be back on ABC with ESPN showing some kind of CFP Playoff style megacast.

  29. They should negotiate to have Disney+ as the exclusive carrier for the most high profile games. That way, you can watch Chiefs vs Packers in between Frozen 2 and WandaVision.

  30. I think this is a move to get Disney out of the picture. Packaging Monday night football to a company like Google (YouTube) – Amazon – Hulu will create an uproar in the network industry standards. Maybe this is a power play by the league, ‘let’s ask for a crazy amount and if it’s not meant we’ll walk to someone we actually want’

    I’m looking directly at YouTube TV – I can see a big play coming out of left field and I imagine Sunday Ticket will be going the same route as well. New players are on the market and I don’t think networks realize what’s going to happen to those who remain content

  31. A billion dollar difference…
    Get rid of pre season, 14 game season, the best 16 teams play off.
    Qaulity over quantity

  32. jacktatumroamingthemiddle says:
    February 23, 2021 at 1:29 pm

    Crazy idea but pitch it to CBS. NBC gets Sunday night, FOX gets Thursday night, CBS gets Monday night. ESPN is losing viewers why not just put the games on networks that aren’t going anywhere?
    —————–

    Just put it back on ABC.

  33. What is ESPN, have not watched it in 2 years. If I could get rid of it on my HULU I would. ESPN will need to cover this stupid mistake and pass it along to the carriers who will pass it along to us the consumer. If that happens by by hulu hello whatever streaming does not carry ESPN.

  34. Would love to see Disney / ESPN end the enablement of the over priced NFL. At the end of the day its going to be anyone that pays the cable bill that will bear the burden of the cost.

  35. MNF is terrible, bad announcers, bad production, whomever is the producers boss should be fired, we don’t need a mini concert at halftime, bad everything, put it on a good network

  36. They won’t be getting any of MY money. In fact, I haven’t watched football since 1976.

  37. That’s $30m plus per team, or $15mil plus to the players. Not talking nickels and dimes here.

  38. That’s a ton of money for a subpar slate of games. If I’m Disney, then I threaten to walk. No other network would come close to the number Disney is at for the quality of matchups On MNF. Monday Night Football once featured great matchups with superior great commentary, but it lost its luster a long time ago.

  39. Not as simple as meeting in the middle. The expected return on invested capital has to exceed cost. Otherwise, ESPN is transferring shareholder wealth to NFL. Interesting is that league is able to continue increasing fee even many new advertising options ( Instagram, Facebook) are out there. I’m much likely to watch a ten second youtube commercial compared to two minutes of commercial.

  40. The amounts of money being discussed along with the NFL teams’ shares is staggering but it mostly causes me to ask “The salary cap is $180M?” Add to that the league expanding to a 17-game season. It’s a case of the rich (owners) get richer while the employees (players) don’t. The current salary cap is a joke.

  41. correctingerrors says:
    February 23, 2021 at 4:50 pm

    2 greedy companies trying to negotiate
    ______________________

    What’s your problem with making money? That’s the purpose of companies. That’s why they exist.

  42. The comical part is going to come whenever they have to do a deal for less than the previous one (or even significantly less than what they were HOPING to get). Might be this time around or might be someday in the future…it’s going to eventually happen. They’ll still have a gigantic TV deal and be making tons of money but they’ll spin it like they’re on the verge of bankruptcy and immediately start talking about huge cuts across the board.

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