The National Football League wants to charge its current network partners double what they’ve been paying to broadcast games — but Disney is pushing back, citing the high price tag for Monday Night Football.
According to CNBC, the NFL is in active discussions on renewal rates with all four of its existing network partners — NBC, CBS, Fox, and Disney-owned ESPN, according to people familiar with the matter. The NFL is hoping to get its primary package renewals completed by March 17, before the start of the new NFL league year, CNBC reported earlier this month.
NBC, CBS and Fox are likely to accept increases closer to 100% than Disney, which is currently paying much more than the three broadcast networks for its Monday Night Football package, said the people, who asked not to be named because the negotiations are private.
Disney agreed to pay $1.9 billion annually for Monday Night Football in 2011 — a deal that runs through 2021. That dwarfed the average $1.1 billion annual cost for Fox, $1 billion annual price tag for CBS and $960 million for NBC’s Sunday Night Football.
Disney has already rejected paying anywhere close to $3.8 billion per year for its new deal, said two of the people. Disney CEO Bob Chapek alluded to pushing back on the NFL’s asking price during his company’s earnings conference call last week.
NFL games have been the most watched programming on television for many years. The top five broadcasts of 2020 were all NFL games. But there’s been a concerning decline among younger audiences, as evidenced by a decade-long decline in Super Bowl ratings among 18-to-49-year-olds.
Disney’s Monday Night Football deal is for more than just the games. Disney also gets highlight rights for ESPN, branding rights for shows, and — importantly — streaming rights.