ESPN is getting aggressive with the NFL according to Andrew Marchand of The New York Post. Even as the rest of the Walt Disney Company looks to change the way it does business, ESPN is still eyeing spending billions on play-by-play rights for football.
Marchand’s story says that ESPN is prepared not only to make the argument that it deserves better games on Monday nights and more playoff inventory because it pays the most to carry the NFL, but the network also has designs on usurping NBC for the Sunday Night Football deal.
Parent company Disney is dedicated to the idea of getting ABC back into the Super Bowl rotation. Might that require ABC to carry Sunday Night Football? If so, ESPN needs to be willing to spend beyond the $2 billion it pays for Monday Night Games.
It is easy to understand ESPN’s complaint. At $2 billion, it gets Monday Night Football and one playoff game. Meanwhile, NBC pays just $950 million. That buys Sunday Night Football, a spot in the Super Bowl rotation, and two playoff games. Plus, Sunday Night Football has the advantage of flex scheduling to ensure that NBC is carrying the biggest game every Sunday.
Just how far Disney is willing to go to get ABC in the Super Bowl rotation remains to be seen. Remember, every NFL television package is up for grabs. That means that even if ABC doesn’t lans Sunday Night Football, it could still find its way into the Super Bowl rotation by scoring the media rights to a Sunday afternoon package of games. It could also mean that if ABC lands the Sunday Night Football rights that NBC could come back into the conversation by getting rights to games on in a different window.
The current TV agreements for the NFL expire after the Super Bowl in 2023. In addition to linear television networks, the NFL anticipates digital giants like Apple and Amazon will be part of the next bidding process for exclusive NFL media rights.
FOX Will Use Chris Fallica On Belmont Stakes Coverage
“While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.”
The Bear will be more than just a college football presence when he moves to FOX. Chris Fallica wrapped his final duties for ESPN last week and is now headed to a new network and will tackle some new responsibilities.
Fallica’s new role at FOX will involve plenty of sports gambling content. Richard Deitsch of The Athletic reports that content will include horse racing.
“One Fox Sports source said look for him to appear on the Belmont Stakes coverage,” Deitsch wrote in his weekly media column.
Starting in 2023, horse racing’s Triple Crown will not be seen all in one place. While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.
How the network intends to use Chris Fallica on the broadcast is not clear. Given that he is coming to the network to contribute to gambling conversations, it is likely he would either be making picks or at least reviewing odds right up to the start of the race.
NBCUniversal CEO Expects Disney To Buy Company’s Hulu Stake
“Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal.”
The Walt Disney Company owns 67% of Hulu. The other 33% is owned by NBCUniversal. The latter company doesn’t expect that to be the case forever.
“It’s worth a lot of money,” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said at an investor conference earlier this week, “and I think there’s no indication that anything else is going to happen than Disney writing us a big check.”
Hulu is primarily a platform for movies and television shows. It is a major part of Disney’s deal with the NHL though. The streaming giant is part of the package of 103 games that are exclusive to ESPN and ABC. Hulu is also a live TV provider for many. The company’s Hulu Plus Live TV package had over 4 million subscribers as of the summer of 2022.
Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal. He credits sports and content migrated from Hulu as the reason Peacock has grown to 18 million paid subscriptions since September.
Deadline reports that if Disney does want to acquire NBCUniversal’s stake in Hulu, “the price could fluctuate but will be in the tens of billions of dollars.”
Greg Olsen Believes He and Kevin Burkhardt Can Handle Games ‘On Any Stage’
“Obviously, the bosses get paid a lot to make hard decisions. You have to obviously do what your bosses decide. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”
“If you’re asking me, I think Kevin and I have shown that we can handle a game on any stage – on any day. We just did it on Thanksgiving. We’ll do it again around Christmas. And obviously throughout the [NFL] Playoffs,” said Olsen. “So whatever decision they make. Obviously, the bosses get paid a lot to make hard decisions. You have to obviously do what your bosses decide. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.
“But as of now, I anticipate Kevin and I, the two of us, with Erin and Tom down on the sidelines, the four of us, broadcasting the Super Bowl in February in Arizona. Until I’m told otherwise, that’s how we’re proceeding.”
Olsen also told FOS he has negotiated a new contract with FOX Sports, but declined to share details. He is slated to be replaced on the top broadcast crew once Tom Brady ends his playing career. Brady will then begin a 10-year, $375 million contract to serve as the network’s top NFL game analyst and brand ambassador.