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Thursday Night Football Holding Up NFL Media Rights Announcements

“Young writes that the NFL wants the rights situation taken care of before March, so teams know exactly what the salary cap is going to be.”

Ricky Keeler

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Before the NFL can set the official salary cap heading into the 2021 season and free agency, one of the things they need to know is what their TV rights deals are going to look like in the future. The last thing the NFL needs to clear up before those deals are officially announced is what network will get Thursday Night Football

According to Jabari Young of CNBC, the Sunday deals are expected to remain the same in terms of who has the rights. However, does FOX still want to keep Thursday Night Football, especially if it is not helping their bottom line? 

“Networks are not showing any interest in it [Thursday Night Football]. They had it. It’s not exclusive. They are not making a profit off of it and at that price point, it is not really worth it,” said Young on CNBC’s Closing Bell. 

Back in 2018, FOX paid $650 million a year for a 5-year deal to be the network that had Thursday Night Football, which is also currently streamed on Amazon. The question is if FOX does not want the broadcast, could it shift over to ESPN? 

Young reported that there might be interest for ESPN to take on the TNF package and pair it with ESPN+, even though it could potentially help out another streaming service in the process.

“There’s speculation a streaming service such as Amazon could bid on the package. But with Fox, CBS and NBC no longer interested in simulcasting the game on a third-party streaming service, Amazon would have to find another partner to produce the game.

“There is a possibility that ESPN could take on the Thursday Night Football game and air the game on ABC. But that would mean helping a rival streaming service as it tries to grow its own ESPN+ offering.” 

However, how skeptical is Disney about paying the lucrative rights fee? In an article written by Cynthia Littleton over at Variety, Disney CEO Bob Chapek talked about how far the company would be willing to go to keep football on ESPN.

“We’ve had a long relationship with the NFL. If there’s a deal that will be accretive to shareholder value will certainly entertain that and look at that,” Chapek said during Disney’s quarterly earnings call. “Our first (priority) will be to look and say ‘Does it make sense for shareholder value going forward?’”

In short order, there will be more clarity on the situation as the NFL shifts to a 17-game schedule in 2021. Young writes that the NFL wants the rights situation taken care of before March, so teams know exactly what the salary cap is going to be. 

As Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reported in December, the combined rights fees from CBS, FOX, NBC ABC/ESPN, and Amazon could reach over $100 billion. The contract for Monday Night Football runs out after next season and the other networks have their deals run out after 2022-2023. 

While most of the new rights fees are ready to go, Thursday Night Football is reportedly holding everything back. Which network will get that package once everything is done? We will soon find out. 

Sports TV News

Pat McAfee Feels Good About His College Football MegaCast Debut

“I feel good going into the next one. I feel like we’ve learned from this first one,” he said.

Jordan Bondurant

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The College Football MegaCast featuring Pat McAfee and his daily YouTube show’s cast debuted on ESPN2 over the weekend, and McAfee is looking forward to the next edition.

On his show Monday, McAfee told co-host A.J. Hawk that he felt good about how the show went considering it was uncharted territory to be in.

“We had no idea how successful it would be,” McAfee said. “Like this is the first time we’re being judged in a different fashion. I don’t think we marketed it much, you know, because I don’t think we knew how it was gonna go.”

The alternate feed is being produced for ESPN by Omaha Productions, which is also responsible for the ManningCast which runs alongside the traditional Monday Night Football broadcast.

McAfee said this first show turned out to be a learning experience and that they started off on the right foot.

“I feel good going into the next one. I feel like we’ve learned from this first one,” he said. “We had no idea, it was very much of a roll of the dice. Going into the next one I think we’re gonna try and make it even grander and bigger, and I’m very excited for it.”

As for the style in which they covered the Clemson/N.C. State game, McAfee added that the giveaways and guest interactions added a lot of value.

“I think it’s the right way to watch a game, and to be honest I think it’s keeping us all invested as much and even more,” he said.

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Sports TV News

LA Clippers Sign New Contract with Bally Sports

The multi-year agreement will go into effect this season. Bally will carry 63 of the team’s 2022-23 regular season games.

Jordan Bondurant

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The Los Angeles Clippers will continue its relationship with Bally Sports, completing a new deal over the weekend to keep Bally as the team’s regional sports network.

The multi-year agreement will go into effect this season. Bally will carry 63 of the team’s 2022-23 regular season games. Additionally, 11 games will be carried by KTLA, giving the team some additional viewership reach. The remaining eight games will be broadcast on national television.

Brian Sieman will continue on as the play-by-play broadcaster for games, with Jim Jackson and Mike Fratello swapping the analyst chair. Jamie Maggio and Kristina Pink will be reporting.

According to the Los Angeles Times, all signs pointed to the team and the network hashing out a new contract.

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Sports TV News

ESPN’s NFL Programming Sees Big September Growth

For ESPN, September has been a really strong month with their NFL programming.

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For ESPN, September has been a really strong month with their NFL programming.

Sunday NFL Countdown is averaging 1.4 million viewers per show thus far in 2022. That up 15% from 2021’s first three shows of the NFL season. The season premiere – Sunday, Sept. 11 – averaged 1.6 million viewers, tying the network’s best Week 1 audience for the show since 2016 and is up 35% year-over-year.

NFL Live experienced large growth too. The episode airing after the first NFL Sunday, on Monday September 12, averaged 664,000 viewers which beat every NFL Live episode last season, including the most-watched episode on 2021 (December 17) which grabbed 635,000 viewers.

Monday Night Countdown is averaging 1.3 million viewers for its two, non-staggered September episodes, which aired in its traditional timeslot (6-8 pm).

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