NFL Seeking 100% Increase in TV Rights Payments, Disney Resists

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The National Football League did not have a very good year in terms of television ratings. Though, you wouldn’t know that based on what they’re asking their broadcast partners to pay.

The NFL is asking their broadcast partners – NBC, Fox, CBS, ESPN (Disney) – to pay double what they have been paying for the right to broadcast NFL games.

However, Disney-owned ESPN is throwing sand in the NFL’s gears.

ESPN already pays $1.9 billion a year to broadcast Monday Night Football. That deal, however, expires in 2021. More importantly, for only one game a week, ESPN is already paying the NFL far more than the $1.1 billion Fox is paying the league and more than the $1 billion and $960 million paid by CBS and NBC respectively.

Given that arrangement, Disney executives are not at all enthralled with the idea of paying the league $3.8 billion per year. A sentiment that was recently expressed by Disney CEO Bob Chapek.

“We’re looking at the long-term trends of sports viewership,” Chapek said. “We’ve had a long relationship with the NFL. If there’s a deal that will be accretive to shareholder value, we will certainly entertain that and look at that. But our first filter will be to say whether it makes sense for shareholder value going forward.”

Disney has already rejected the NFL’s proposal, according to CNBC.

“NBC, CBS, and Fox are likely to accept increases closer to 100% than Disney, which is currently paying much more than the three broadcast networks for its Monday Night Football package, said the people, who asked not to be named because the negotiations are private,” CNBC reported.

While NFL games are consistently the most-watched television events, the last few years have seen a precipitous drop in ratings. The league saw a seven and ten percent ratings drop in 2016 and 2017, in the immediate aftermath of the Colin Kaepernick-led anthem protests. Then, after two years of relative calm and a rebound in ratings, the league saw a seven percent drop in 2020 as the league renewed its focus on social justice activism.

The ratings for the Super Bowl were an unmitigated disaster for the league.

The Brady vs. Mahomes matchup fetched the lowest ratings since 1969.

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