NFL asks for 100% enhance in TV rights, Disney pushes again

New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard (87) caught a pass in the first half at MetLife Stadium in front of Pittsburgh Steelers strong security Terrell Edmunds (34) and linebacker Devin Bush (55).

Vincent Carchietta | USA TODAY Sports

The National Football League plans to charge its current network partners twice their pay for broadcasting games – but Disney is pushing back, citing the high price for Monday Night Football.

The NFL is in active discussions about renewal rates with all four existing network partners – NBC, CBS, Fox, and ESPN owned by Disney – according to those familiar with the matter. The NFL hopes the primary package renewal will be completed by March 17 before the start of the new NFL league year, CNBC reported earlier this month.

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

Disney agreed to pay $ 1.9 billion annually for Monday Night Football in 2011 – a deal that runs through 2021. That dwarfed the average annual cost of $ 1.1 billion for Fox, $ 1 billion a year for CBS, and $ 960 million for NBC’s Sunday Night Football.

Disney has already declined to pay nearly $ 3.8 billion a year for its new deal, two respondents said. Disney CEO Bob Chapek hinted at pushing back the NFL’s price tag during his company’s earnings conference call last week.

“We’re looking at the long-term trends in sports viewers,” Chapek said on February 11th. “We’ve had a long relationship with the NFL. If there’s a deal that adds shareholder value, we sure will.” Have a chat and watch this. But our first filter will be to say if it makes sense for future shareholder value. “

NFL games have been the most watched program on television for many years. The top five shows of 2020 were all NFL games. However, there has been a worrying decline in younger viewers, reflected in a decade-long decline in Super Bowl ratings among 18- to 49-year-olds.

Disney’s trial

Disney’s Monday Night Football deal isn’t just for the games. Disney also gets highlight rights for ESPN, branding rights for shows and, importantly, streaming rights.

The league has asked Disney to pay the same type of raise as its other partners, as Disney is demanding more from the NFL this time around – including the Monday night double-headed games, which aired a game on ABC, the network of networks operated by Disney said the people. Disney also wants ABC to be part of the Super Bowl rotation with NBC, CBS, and Fox. ABC was the home of Monday Night Football until 2005.

Disney also wants flexibility in terms of streaming rights as the company is considering selling ESPN as a direct-to-consumer product. The NFL plans to include streaming rights as part of every network package, people said.

Additionally, the NFL plans to add an 18th week of regular season play as early as next season. This is an additional game for Disney – and every other broadcast partner.

Spokespeople for the NFL and the networks declined to comment.

– CNBC’s Jabari Young contributed to this story.

Disclosure: NBC is part of NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC.

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