The new NFL television contract was officially announced by the league and its partners on Thursday. To say the changes are sweeping would be an understatement.
The finances are absolutely insane with the NFL continuing to prove itself as the most-popular professional sports league in North America. It’s said to be worth north of $100 billion and will run from 2023-33. Interestingly enough, the announcement comes amid an NFL league year that has seen the salary cap drop for the first time in over a decade. That has not been lost on agents as free agency continues.
New NFL television deal announced
“The National Football League announced today that it has signed long-term agreements with media partners Amazon, CBS, ESPN/ABC, FOX, and NBC for the distribution of NFL games, the industry’s most valuable content, over television and digital platforms, as well as additional media rights,” the league released in a statement via its official website. “With these agreements, the NFL has expanded its digital footprint to reach a broader audience while maintaining its commitment to keep all NFL games on over-the-air television. The new agreements will begin with the 2023 season and run through the 2033 season.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell also released a statement.
“These new media deals will provide our fans even greater access to the games they love. We’re proud to grow our partnerships with the most innovative media companies in the market,” the NFL head said. “Along with our recently completed labor 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.”
There’s certainly a lot of layers to this new television deal. Below, we break down what is most important to the consumer and how it will impact viewers starting in 2023.
DirecTV is out under new NFL television contract
While it’s not in the official release, reports surfaced on Thursday that the ESPN+ streaming service will get “Sunday Ticket” for the duration of the 11-year contract, starting in 2023.
For those who are looking to cord-cut, this is no small thing. DirecTV has proven to be expensive for consumers who feel the need to have “Sunday Ticket” in order to see their out-of-market teams play on a weekly basis. DirecTV has held the rights to “Sunday Ticket” since its inception all the way back in 1994. This is indeed a game-changer.
Changes to “Monday Night Football”
Over the past several years, NBC and the NFL has had the option to flex games out of their “Sunday Night Football” broadcasts from Week 12 on. Under the new television deal, the same thing will be the case when it comes to ESPN’s broadcast of “Monday Night Football.”
This is no small thing for fans. It enables viewers to watch games that have an impact on the NFL Playoff race rather than having to sit through meaningless matchups.
In addition to this, ESPN announced that it will air 23 games annually rather than the 17 under the current NFL television contract. This includes three weeks with a “Monday Night Football” doubleheader with one of the games airing on ABC, the former long-time host of the weekly Monday game.
Amazon gets exclusive-rights deal
“In the NFL’s first ever all-digital package, Amazon Prime Video has acquired the rights to be the exclusive home of Thursday Night Football across hundreds of compatible digital devices,” the NFL announced. “The NFL and Amazon first partnered on Thursday Night Football as part of a Tri-Cast distribution model during the 2017 season.”
Yes, “Thursday Night Football” is transitioning from its current broadcast home of NBC and NFL Network to an all-streaming Amazon Prime service. Again, this is a big deal for the cord-cutters among us. It’s also the most-dramatic change under the new television contract and pretty much the most-sweeping change in broadcasting around the NFL in decades.
Super Bowl broadcasts
Five networks will now be part of the Super Bowl rotation with Disney adding broadcasts on ESPN and ABC. Here’s a break down.
- CBS: 2023, 2027, 2031
- FOX: 2024, 2028, 2032
- NBC: 2025, 2029, 2033
- ESPN/ABC: 2026, 2030
This is a pretty big deal and a dramatic change from what we see under the current NFL television contract. Right now, the rotation includes FOX, CBS and NBC only. It’s a big win for Disney.
Though, the biggest takeaway here is the NFL’s move to streaming services. The league made it a focal point of its press release on Thursday.
“With games on Amazon Prime Video, ESPN+, Paramount+, Peacock, and FOX Digital platforms – in addition to NFL Mobile and digital platforms – NFL games are now available in more places and on more devices than ever before to meet the evolving consumption habits of NFL fans.”
New NFL television contract and what it means for the salary cap
It’s interesting that this was announced during an NFL free agent period that has seen the salary cap decrease to $182.5 million due to the revenue downfall created by COVID-19. One might think that the league and its partners might have wanted to wait until after the NFL Draft to make this official. Alas, that’s not the case.
Moving forward, this new television contract is going to be a boon for teams and their players. The cap will increase big time moving forward. Here’s a look at the projections.
- 2021: $182.5 million
- 2022: $203 million
- 2023: $225 million
- 2024: $256 million