NFL signs 11-year broadcast agreement with television networks

March 26, 2021

Since the National Football League’s (NFL) brand exploded worldwide, their mindset has been “go big or go home.” Last week was a “go big” moment as the NFL announced a new round of broadcast rights agreements. The new 11-year agreement is worth $113 billion and begins with the 2023 season and runs through the 2023 season. 

In a press release distributed on March 18, the league announced NFL games will remain on Amazon Prime, CBS, ESPN/ABC, FOX and NBC. Amazon has acquired the rights to be the home of Thursday Night Football through various streaming options, while CBS will again retain the rights for the American Football Conference (AFC) package of Sunday afternoon games throughout the duration of the agreement. 

Additionally, games will be streamed live on Paramount+, ViacomCBS’s flagship streaming service. Moreover, ESPN will continue to broadcast Monday Night Football, and ABC acquired the rights to broadcast two Super Bowls and regular season games. ESPN+ subscribers can also stream one International Series Game every season and watch games on ABC and ESPN without switching platforms. Furthermore, FOX renewed its agreement to broadcast Sunday games from the National Football Conference (NFC) and is expanding its digital rights to stream NFL games on Tubi while its competitor, NBC, will air Sunday Night Football, produced by NBC Sports; select games will be available to stream on Peacock also. 

The NFL Network will continue to serve as the television home of the NFL and will televise a select number of games every year, per the contract. In a statement, League Commissioner Roger Godell explained that “these distribution agreements bring an unprecedented era of stability to the League and will permit us to continue to grow and improve our game.” 

Moreover, the NFL announced that games may be flexed to Sunday Night Football and Monday Night Football in a league-wide effort to provide fans with an increased quality level of play during a primetime television spot. From 2023 to 2033, four networks will separately own the rights to broadcast the Super Bowl. CBS retains the rights to broadcast the Super Bowl in 2023, 2027 and 2031 while FOX will broadcast in 2024, 2028 and 2032. NBC retains the rights to broadcast in 2025, 2029, and 2033 while ESPN and ABC collectively will air the Super Bowl on their networks in 2026 and 2030. 

These new television broadcasting agreements will also significantly affect future NFL salary caps. Shortly before NFL free agency began, the League and National Football Players Association (NFLPA) announced the salary cap would be set to $182.5 million, an increase from earlier predictions. To compare, the NFL’s salary cap last year was $198.2 million, a reflection of revenue gains before the pandemic. While NFL fans may be disappointed their teams did not splash out big contracts to free agents this year, there is a presumption that in the next 11 years the increase of television advertising and fans in NFL stadiums will cause the salary cap to increase. This year, the salary cap was lowered due to revenue losses by the league due to crowd limits and less advertising. The Patriots organization acted accordingly this offseason as they signed a variety of NFL free agents to hefty contracts before the salary cap increases; it remains to be seen how other NFL clubs respond.

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