Sports Business Journal supplied it. The NFL denied it. SBJ is standing by it.
The current story from John Ourand of Sports Business Journal includes the NFL’s quote calling the report “incorrect.” However, Ourand maintains that a “broad agreement” has been reached between the league and Disney on a new deal for Monday Night Football. Ourand adds that the “[c]ontracts have not been signed,” but that a deal is close.
Thus, it may be a matter of semantics. Since no deal is done until it’s done, the NFL can take the position that there’s no agreement until all i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed. Given the complexity of the deal, and the propensity for billion-dollar businesses to continue the haggling until the pens are put to paper, it’s fair to say a deal isn’t officially done. It’s apparently also fair to say, as Ourand does, that the deal is moving toward being done.
Ourand has narrowed the Disney rights fee to roughly $2.6 billion annually; initially, the report pegged it between $2.4 billion and $2.6 billion per year.
Plenty of questions remain to be answered, if the deal gets done. Will some MNF games be simulcast on ABC? Will any be exclusive to ABC?
Also, there has been talk of late-season doubleheaders, with the order of the games determined closer in time to the day in question. Under that approach, the lesser game would air on ESPN, and the better game would land on ABC (and possibly also ESPN).
Whatever the precise status, it’s stunning that the Disney’s talks have accelerated so quickly. As of a week ago, they looked to be the straggler. Now, they’re seemingly at the front of the line.
Regardless of the order in which the dominos fall, it’s widely believed that all TV deals will be done soon. The NFL wants to implement a 17-game regular season in 2021. They need to lock in the financial return for televising an extra week of games before officially unveiling an expanded slate of games.