The NFL could soon be adding a new network to its highly lucrative Super Bowl rotation.
According to Front Office Sports’ Michael McCarthy, Disney is in “an increasingly strong position” to win an NFL live game package for its ABC network. If Disney is successful, it’s reportedly possible ABC will enter the Super Bowl rotation currently shared by CBS, NBC and Fox.
The NFL’s live TV rights are currently held by the three aforementioned networks and ESPN, which is owned by Disney and airs only Monday Night Football, the Pro Bowl and one wild-card game. Both Disney and the NFL are reportedly interested in making Monday Night Football an ESPN/ABC simulcast, returning the game to the network that aired it from 1970 to 2005.
Every one of the NFL’s TV deals expire in the next two years, giving the league a chance to revamp how its games hit the airwaves.
The NFL makes $5 billion annually in TV rights
Here’s how much each network is currently paying per year to air its chunk of NFL games:
ESPN: $1.9 billion for Monday Night Football
Fox: $1.75 billion for Sunday afternoon NFC games and Thursday Night Football
CBS: $1 billion for Sunday afternoon AFC Games
NBC: $950 million for Sunday Night Football
Many in the league, including NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, reportedly hope that to have their next wave of rights deals signed by 2021.
Adding ABC to the mix would give the NFL a consistent placement on all four major networks, which would be an advantageous position as cord-cutting continues to hurt the ratings of the NBA and MLB.
ESPN talent on the Super Bowl?
If Disney is successful in landing ABC a spot in the Super Bowl rotation, Front Office Sports reports game would still be broadcast as “ESPN on ABC,” which the company has done for nearly every football game it has aired on its network.
Such a set-up would be a dream come true for ESPN, and something it has been trying to build toward for years. One of the reasons the network reportedly pushed so hard to land Peyton Manning for Monday Night Football was that it wanted to make its top crew as attractive as possible while lobbying for the big game.
Instead of its reported dream crew of Manning and Al Michaels, the network will move forward with Steve Levy, Brian Griese and Louis Riddick, likely to be a significant upgrade over Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland.
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