The NFL has its new television rights deals in place for well beyond the 2021 season. The league agreed to long-term agreements Thursday to distribute game coverage on TV, cable and digital platforms with five familiar media partners: Amazon, CBS, ESPN/ABC, Fox and NBC. The agreements, which further expand the NFL’s massive digital audience reach, go into effect in 2023 and are in place through 2033.
“These new media deals will provide our fans even greater access to the games they love. We’re proud to grow our partnerships with the most innovative media companies in the market,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement released by the league. “Along with our recently completed labor agreement with the NFLPA, these distribution agreements bring an unprecedented era of stability to the league and will permit us to continue to grow and improve our game.”
Those five networks/outlets all provided coverage in 2020, so it’s no surprise they all paid a lot to maintain their profitable partnership, which will lead to another revenue boom for the league. Here’s how each partner will be involved in game coverage:
NFL’s new TV deals, explained
The streaming subscription service Amazon Prime Video, available on most digital devices, now becomes the exclusive home of “Thursday Night Football” after being part of a “Tri-Cast” distribution model with other networks since 2017. Per CNBC, Amazon is paying $1 billion per season for the midweek exclusivity.
Viacom/CBS gets a new multi-platform deal. CBS will continue to be the primary home for AFC games on Sunday afternoons, which will now be streamed on new subscription service Paramount Plus as well as air on CBS Television. Under the $2.1 billion-per-season deal, CBS is locking down 78 consecutive years as an NFL TV partner. It will get to air three Super Bowls during the contract, in 2023, 2027 and 2031.
Disney made sure “Monday Night Football” stayed on ESPN by investing more than the other networks, around $2.7 billion per season, per CNBC. As part of the deal, ABC gets to air three standalone “MNF” games a year and ESPN/ABC will simulcast a Saturday doubleheader on the final weekend of the regular season. The new agreement brings two Super Bowls to ESPN/ABC, in 2026 and 2030. The games on either network also will be available to be streamed on ESPN Plus. Subscribers to ESPN Plus also get exclusive access to one international game per season.
Just like CBS sticking with AFC on Sunday afternoons, Fox continues its hold on the NFC, which it has had since 1994. As part of the new $2.2 billion annual investement, it expanded its digital rights with more NFL programming to be disributed by Tubi. Fox will get the Super Bowls of 2024, 2028 and 2032.
Yes, as you can guess, “Sunday Night Football” isn’t relocating, either, with NBC Universal putting up $2 billion per season for exclusive rights to the league’s premier regular-season prime-time national package. NBC’s streaming service, Peacock, also will have exclusive coverage of select games over the course of the agreement. NBC gets the Super Bowl in 2025, 2029 and 2033, the final year of the deal.
The league-owned media service will continue to televise a handful of games every year.
There is no change in the NFL’s premier premium TV package as this remains the only way to subscribe to NFL Sunday Ticket to watch/stream all Sunday afternoon out-of-market games, regardless of whether they’re on CBS or Fox.