NFL wants to finalize new TV deals before setting 2021 salary cap in March

Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Tom Brady in motion in Super Bowl LV, February 7, 2021.

Brian Snyder | Reuters

The Super Bowl is full, and the National Football League is losing no time shifting consideration to its high income stream: media rights.

The NFL is wanting to finalize frameworks of new TV rights agreements in the following few weeks and wants to achieve this before setting the 2021 salary cap determine in March, in accordance to folks with information of the state of affairs.

The folks requested not to be recognized as they are not allowed to communicate publicly about league affairs.

Network companions Fox, ViacomCBS, NBC and Disney‘s ESPN pay the league roughly $6 billion per 12 months, with AT&T-owned DirecTV including one other $1.5 billion for the Sunday Ticket bundle. It’s been extensively rumored the following settlement may attain $100 billion by way of a 10-year deal. Other choices embrace a seven-year deal at $14 billion per 12 months or an eight-year deal at $12 billion per 12 months.

Working in the NFL’s favor is a new 10-year labor settlement reached final 12 months with the NFL Players Association (NFLPA), extra postseason contests and a 17-game regular-season schedule, which the league is planning to implement subsequent season. Hence, with the additional video games added, the NFL wants its charge.

The NFL declined to remark.

Packages are anticipated to stay related, with Fox and CBS holding Sunday afternoon video games and NBC holding on to its Sunday Night Football bundle.

But ESPN is the wildcard.

ESPN+ is a contender to substitute DirecTV for the NFL’s Sunday Ticket bundle, CNBC reported final 12 months, and Disney additionally wants to be part of the Super Bowl rotation. That means it may add video games to its ABC community.

One of the people steered a part of the holdup to finalizing a new settlement is the NFL discovering a new dwelling for the Thursday Night Football bundle, which Fox at present holds however may drop the deal when it ends in 2023.

There’s hypothesis a streaming service reminiscent of Amazon may bid on the bundle. But with Fox, CBS and NBC now not in simulcasting the sport on a third-party streaming service, Amazon would have to discover one other companion to produce the sport.

There is a risk that ESPN may tackle the Thursday Night Football recreation and air the sport on ABC. But that might imply serving to a rival streaming service because it tries to develop its personal ESPN+ providing.

Amazon renewed its settlement with the NFL final April. Its latest bundle included continued streaming of Thursday Night Football and solely displaying a nationwide regular-season recreation on the corporate’s Prime Video and Twitch platforms. Amazon streamed the San Francisco 49ers-Arizona Cardinals contest in Week 16 solely, exterior of staff markets. CBS produced the sport.

CNBC reported final 12 months that Amazon would additionally take into account the Sunday Ticket bundle, utilizing the NFL programming as a instrument to get folks to subscribe to Prime.

CNBC’s report additionally had a prediction from LightShed media analyst Rich Greenfield that CBS would lose its NFL bundle. Should that occur, maybe CBS may decrease its rights charge and tackle Thursday Night Football, work with Amazon solely and stay in Super Bowl rotation. ESPN may then get Sunday afternoons on ABC and retain the Monday Night Football franchise.

One of the folks stated all the media rights deals would’ve been finalized in December had the Thursday bundle been resolved.

ESPN, NBC, CBS and Fox Sports declined remark.

In this Oct. 4, 2020 file picture is an empty Levi’s Stadium before an NFL soccer recreation.

Tony Avelar | AP

Fewer preseason video games?

The NFL is at present calculating losses for the 12 months, with its golf equipment submitting monetary data for the 2020 season, in accordance to one of many folks.

The NFLPA will then assessment income experiences as the 2 sides negotiate a new salary cap for the 2021 season. The NFL may undergo a $Four billion loss amongst its golf equipment due to Covid-19 stopping full stadiums.

The 2020 salary cap was roughly $198 million per staff. Salary cap evaluation web site estimated the 2021 cap quantity would attain $180 million. One of the folks steered $185 million could be the quantity, however both method, it is going to mark the primary salary cap lower since 2011. But that cap is projected to skyrocket to over $200 million for the 2022 season.

As of now, a new cap determine wants to be in place by March 17.

Once new media agreements closing, there’s hypothesis the NFL may take away two preseason video games because it inserts the additional regular-season recreation. Should the league add a 17th recreation, not less than one preseason recreation might be eliminated in accordance to the new collective bargaining settlement.

With gamers proving in the course of the pandemic season they might put together nearly, and and not using a preseason, NFLPA president J.C. Tretter has referred to as for much less put on and tear in the course of the 12 months.

“We had no offseason practices, fewer training camp practices, and no preseason games. While some feared that those changes would lead to a sloppy 2020 NFL season, our collective level of play across the league has actually never been higher,” Tretter wrote in December.

“I believe the changes implemented this season have demonstrated that we can put an entertaining product out on the field while further reducing wear and tear on our players’ bodies,” he added.

In 2019, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell additionally supported a shorter preseason.

“I’m not sure, talking with coaches, that four preseason games is necessary any more to get ready for a season to evaluate players, develop players,” he stated, by way of The Associated Press. “There are other ways of doing that, and we’ve had a lot of discussions about that.”

Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the guardian firm of CNBC.

CNBC’s Alex Sherman contributed to this report.

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