The American Football league NFL raises 113 billion dollars (95 billion euros) from the sale of its media rights for eleven seasons.
The new media deal for eleven seasons between 2023 and 2033 contains one big first. The American tech giant Amazon is the very first streaming platform ever to claim an exclusive package of matches from the NFL with its Prime Video.
The league – run as a company by NFL CEO Roger Goodell on behalf of the 32 team owners – does not disclose amounts of its own. But on the basis of indiscretions by the negotiators, the American media is lifting the veil of the prices that TV channels and stream companies pay to the NFL.
Exclusive on Thursdays
Amazon would pay $ 1 billion (840 million euros) for the exclusive rights to all games on Thursday from the NFL. Billionaire Jeff Bezos’ company already had the rights to 2 games on Thursday since 2017, but is now taking over the full package from classic TV company Fox – owned by the famous Australian-American media family around Rupert Murdoch.
The competitions are divided among a number of media companies. They each take up part of the number of available slots. Most coveted moments are the Super Bowl – the championship grand finale on a Sunday evening in February.
With over 100 million viewers, this is a commercial goldmine for telecom companies and pay stations. TV spots during the many breaks in the Super Bowl easily cost $ 5 million per half minute. The NFL has distributed the Super Bowls to different companies through 2033. CBS is allowed to broadcast them in 2023, 2027 and 2031, Fox in 2024, 2028 and 2032 and NBC between 2025, 2029 and 2033. Unlike the rest, ABC will only get 2, in 2026 and 2030.
NBC retains ownership of the all-important Sunday night slot. For many Americans, this is as sacred a moment as going to church in the morning. Remarkable: the package also includes the rights for NBC’s streaming platform, Peacock. On Sunday afternoon, the rights for the AFC division will remain with CBS, including its own streaming flagship Paramount +.
The NFC division on Sunday afternoon will stay with FOX and its own streaming platform Tubi. The NFL has been split into an AFC and NFC division for historical reasons – it is actually the outcome of a merger between 2 rival leagues. The champions of the two divisions play against each other in the Super Bowl. Finally, ESPN remains the home base for the games on Monday, supplemented with digital rights to a number of additional games from ABC channel.
As a result of the deal, revenues will almost double, from $ 5.9 billion a year to more than 10 million from 2023. ViacomCBS, Fox and Comcast would each pay over 2 billion dollars a year, according to American media, Disney (owner of ABC and ESPN) would have closed the thickest deal with 2.7 billion dollars. Add to that Amazon’s 1 billion. In addition, there are some extra hundreds of millions, including for the foreign competitions. For example, the NFL plays an annual game in London and Mexico City.
So the biggest shift is the large package of extra matches for Amazon. In that sense, the NFL deal is also interesting for European football.
The fear is that peak rights may arise because traditional media companies no longer want to splash with cash as in the past. Their margins are under pressure due to the rapid advance of tech companies. For the time being, the latter only buy very targeted and focused sports rights, only if they can use it to boost their commercial platforms in order to attract additional customers.
The new NFL deal could indicate that players like Amazon, Apple, Facebook or Google now want to jump further. The biggest media block in football is the English Premier League, with annual revenues of around 3 billion euros. That’s less than a third of the NFL, while English football is widely viewed in the world unlike the NFL. It shows that there may still be some stretch on the football media rights.
Meanwhile, the NFL stars lick their teeth at the new deal. This ensures that teams will be able to raise their salary ceilings after the sport has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic commercially. New NFL superstar Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs – who incidentally lost the Super Bowl to legend Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – signed a ten-year deal for $ 450 million last year.