What NFL’s big-money TV deal means for fans


The now-official NFL TV contracts will rake in more than $100 billion over the next 11 years, according to sources, by simultaneously keeping basically the status quo and venturing into new avenues.

At its core, it is a golden-rule deal. The one with the gold makes the rules.

In this case, the gold is NFL programming, which accounts for nearly all of the Top 50 programs of the year, including the granddaddy of them all, the Super Bowl. The NFL is so powerful, it became news when Disney/ABC/ESPN dared to negotiate during the process.

In the end — glory, glory — the owners and the players and everyone else involved in the game will become even richer.

But who cares about them, we are here for you. So what does this all mean for you, the fan?

Nothing to see yet

The deals are so long that Tony Romo’s 10-year, $180M contract will be old news by the time they end in 2033. That is because you don’t have to worry about most of this until 2023.

Amazon Primed

Thursday Night Football will be exclusively on Amazon Prime. This deal will likely be the only one to begin early, starting in 2022.

Jeff Bezos’ entry fee for around 15 games is at least a billion dollars, according to sources. The exact number is not known yet. That would be nearly $70M per game, and they might not be very good ones.

Considering none of the networks wanted TNF — Fox may exit a year early — that’s not a bad job by the NFL.

You now have a year to teach the digitally challenged person in your life how to subscribe to Amazon Prime ($119 for free shipping!). In local markets, the games will be on over-the-air TV. So if the Jets are playing, you will be able to see it on a free channel.

ABC/ESPN’s Super Bowl shuffle

The last time around, ESPN negotiated the worst deal. This time they did not.

While everyone else basically doubled what they were paying, ESPN will go from $1.9B to $2.7B, according to sources. It is still the most of any network, but now they are getting some real goodies instead of mostly dreck.

First off, they will have two Super Bowls (2026 and 2030). Last time around, somehow they had none. The amount of games ABC/ESPN will rise from 17 to 23.

They should have better ones to broadcast with flexible Monday Night scheduling beginning in Week 12 (If you plan a trip to go see a Sunday road game late in the season, you may want to make that return flight for Tuesday).

They will also have a Saturday doubleheader the final weekend of the season. Plus, they will add a divisional round game to its preexisting wild card. More games will be on ABC.

And they will have nearly everything on ESPN+, which makes Disney executives as happy as a 7-year-old on Space Mountain for the first time. This will include one yearly exclusive game on ESPN+.

Fox/CBS & NBC and a familiar Sunday feel

The digitally challenged can sit in their La-Z-Boy and enjoy Sunday, like they always have.

These three networks will look the most the same as they do today. You will be able to watch CBS, Fox and NBC give you that sweet, all-day course of football for the next 11 years. NBC will pay around $2B, while CBS will go for $2.1B and Fox $2.25B per year, according to sources.

They all have three Super Bowls in the deal, while Fox and CBS keep the conference championships. NBC and CBS will have their games available in market on their subscription services, Peacock and Paramount Plus. Peacock will have one exclusive game per year, like ESPN+

Fox will get Tubi (its advertising based direct to consumer product) involved, consisting, at first, of condensed replayed games.

So these three networks will introduce the new, while not saying goodbye to the old.

Sunday Ticket not yet punched

The deal that is still out there is for Sunday Ticket, which allows a fan to watch games from out of market. DirecTV is signed up for two more years, but ESPN+, Amazon, Paramount Plus and Peacock will all have interest, as all the companies want to add subscribers to these services.

It will mean — glory, glory — more billions for the NFL.

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