As NFL teams prepare to sign players to huge contracts with the 2021 league year opening Wednesday, the NFL could sign its own record-setting deals that will bring in unprecedented revenue.
After the league and players’ union agreed to a new CBA last spring, the focus shifted to securing long-term contracts with television partners. Once the 2020 season wrapped up, negotiations accelerated towards multiple agreements that could exceed $100-plus billion in revenue.
The deals were a major hurdle before the 2021 salary cap could be finalized. Fortunately, this past week, the league set the cap number for the upcoming season and free agency is about to begin. But players won’t be the only ones signing stunning contracts this week.
NFL expected to sign new TV deals later this week
According to NBC Sports’ Peter King, league officials are hopeful that new TV contracts will be finalized this week, ideally before owners conduct virtual meetings.
Technically, the existing contracts for the broadcasting rights to NFL games don’t expire until 2022. However, even coming off a year that saw NFL ratings drop, both parties wanted to ensure long-term commitments through the life of the new CBA.
For football fans, many things will look the same when new contracts are signed. NBC will still broadcast Sunday Night Football, but it’s expected to cost them nearly double what the network paid previously. Likewise, CBS and FOX will retain their package of Sunday broadcasts and FOX will still have its Game of the Week.
There will be a few changes coming in 2022. For one, Disney has obtained the rights to broadcast two future Super Bowls, something the company desperately wanted. Monday Night Football will remain on ESPN moving forward, after the network fell short in negotiations for SNF. But ESPN/ABC still comes out as a winner from the negotiations, with the NFL expanding its flex scheduling for the network to choose from better matchups late in the season and there could be more MNF doubleheaders in the near future.
Much of this has been known for months, but the future of Thursday Night Football and NFL Sunday Ticket were the biggest question marks. FOX will be ditching TNF under the new agreements, with Amazon expected to pick up the TNF package and it could have exclusive streaming rights, with NFL Network also broadcasting games.
As for NFL Sunday Ticket, ESPN, Amazon and Apple have all been connected to one of the most popular services in sports. While there aren’t details on which company is landing it, the end result will be the streaming package becoming more readily available for fans with DIRECTV left behind.
Most importantly for teams and players, the new TV contracts should send the 2022 salary cap soaring. So, with free agency about to begin, don’t be surprised if some marquee players take one-year contracts and look to cash in next offseason.