American football: NFL signs media deals worth over $100 billion

NEW YORK – The National Football League (NFL) signed new media rights agreements with CBS, NBC, Fox, ESPN and Amazon collectively worth about US$110 billion (S$147.7 billion) over 11 years, nearly doubling the value of its previous contracts.

The contracts, which will take effect in 2023 and run through the 2033 season, will cement the NFL’s status as the country’s most lucrative sports league. They will also set the stage for the league’s owners to make good on plans to expand the regular season to include a 17th game and charge more for broadcasting rights.

The league’s soaring revenues will aid far-reaching plans for the next decade, a period when team owners hope to expand the NFL’s already robust calendar, make deeper inroads into overseas markets and increase the football audience via streaming services. The NFL is poised to more than recoup the roughly US$4 billion in losses wrought by not having maximum capacity attendance at games in 2020.

“Along with our recently completed labour agreement with the NFLPA, these distribution agreements bring an unprecedented era of stability to the League and will permit us to continue to grow and improve our game,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.

According to four people familiar with the agreements who requested anonymity because they were not authorised by the NFL to speak publicly about the deals, CBS, Fox and NBC will pay more than US$2 billion each to hold onto their slots, with NBC paying slightly less than CBS and Fox. ESPN will pay about US$2.7 billion a year to continue airing Monday Night Football, but also to be added into the rotation to broadcast the Super Bowl beginning in 2026.

Each of the broadcasters’ deals include agreements for their respective streaming platforms, while Amazon will show Thursday night games on its Amazon Prime Video service.

The jump in revenue will not initially change the fortunes of players, who are locked into a 10-year collective bargaining agreement narrowly ratified in March 2020. Under the terms of that labour deal, players will see a bump in their share of the NFL’s revenue, up to 48.5 per cent from 47 per cent, while team owners negotiated the option to add a 17th game to the regular season schedule in 2021, something players had long opposed.

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