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Could ESPN Lose the NFL in 2022?

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Dec 21, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) talks to head coach Sean Payton during their game against the Detroit Lions in the fourth quarter of the game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Photo: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Could Disney/ESPN skip the next round of bidding when National Football League over-the-air and cable/satellite TV rights become available after 2021?

It is possible according to Andrew Miller of the Hollywood Reporter, who examined the possibility that ESPN may not show NFL games in 2022. Miller reported that the Walt Disney Company’s new carriage deal with cable providers no longer contains a provision that ESPN must have NFL games as part of its offerings in exchange for charging the highest subscriber fee in the business. There is a long way to go before the next round of negotiations as the talks with video entities are more than likely not going to start until 2020.

There may be non-traditional TV outlets that want the NFL packages. Amazon has a piece of the present NFL Thursday night package. Perhaps Netflix which has a lot of money because it is a global entity might want the programming.

Before the NFL gets to the handing out the Sunday day, Sunday night, Monday night and playoff and Super Bowl packages, there is a little matter of what to do with the Thursday Night football.

The present deal with CBS and NBC ends with the Denver and Indianapolis game on December 14.  The Thursday night package brought $900 million into the NFL office with CBS and NBC getting five games a year over the life of the two-year contract. Separately, there were eight additional games that ended up on the NFL Network, six Thursday night contests and two others. The NFL Network desperately needs those games to keep the league owned cable network going as multiple cable system operators as well as satellite and phone providers are not going to carry the NFL Network with no games. Because of money ESPN may sit on the NFL sidelines starting in 2022.

By Evan Weiner For The Politics Of Sports Business

This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.

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