The National Football League has solidified its broadcast roster into the next decade, with CBS, Fox and NBC inking nine-year extensions, while the pro football league will add more Thursday night contests for its in-house network.
The pacts give each of the networks three Super Bowls from 2014-2022. Under the new set-up, NFL Network, in what can be deemed as a vote of confidence by NFL owners, will add more contests to what has been an eight-game primetime slate.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the broadcast committee has yet to decided whether to create a separate Thursday package to sell to an outside network.
The deals -- which published reports indicate reaped increases of 7% per season for a total of more than 60% over the extant pacts and now value each of the broadcast networks' contract at nearly $1 billion annually -- come on the cleats of the eight-year, $15.2 billion renewal that ESPN signed for Monday Night Football and other rights from 2014-21 in September.
The networks' current contracts -- $1.1 billion from ESPN annually, $725 million from Fox, $625 million from CBS and $612 million from NBC -- expire after the 2013 campaign. The NFL also collects $4 billion from DirecTV for the out-of-market Sunday Ticket package from 2011-2014,
The new deals value Fox's contract at $1.1 billion per season, CBS's at $1 billion and NBC's at $950 million, according to published reports.
Under the extensions, CBS and Fox will principally retain the rights to American Football Conference and National Football Conference contests, respectively, both there are changes relative to flexible scheduling.
Comcast-controlled NBC will continue to present its top-rated Sunday Night Football, adding a new Thanksgiving night game, kicking off in 2012. In addition to raising its regular-season count to 19 games, the Peacock is upgrading its playoff roster, trading one of its Wild Card contests for a Divisional playoff game. That switch apparently will open the door to ESPN scoring a playoff contest, a provision that was a possibility under its new NFL extension, when the new deals kickoff in 2014.
NBC, which will televise Super Bowl XLVI from Indianapolis on Feb. 6, picks up three NFL title tilts -- 2015, 2018, 2021 -- in the extension, up from a pair under its current deal.
The package also provides for enhanced flexible scheduling, more digital access, including "TV Everywhere" rights. Moreover, NBCUniversal has tackled Spanish-language game rights for Telemundo, mun2 or an SAP feed. Sources familiar with the contract indicate that the NBC Sports Group has also added expansive NFL game highlights rights that can fuel other platforms, including national cable platform NBC Sports Network, which is being rebranded from Versus on Jan. 2. Starting in 2014, the NBS Sports Network will host a Sunday morning pre-game show, according to sources.
For its part, Fox not only remains the network home of the NFC regular-season package, but it now adds postseason rights to Wild Card games, in addition to the Divisional Playoff contests, the NFC Championship Game and Super Bowls it has been airing. This time around, Fox will televise Super Bowls LI, LIV & LVII.
Flexible scheduling, which the NFL initiated to ensure quality matchups in all Sunday time slots and as it relates to Fox, gives NFC teams a chance to play their way into the late-afternoon 4:15 PM ET window, expands in 2014. Included in the changes is a limited ability for the NFL to move games between Fox and CBS that would bring regional games to wider audiences.
Fox's pact also includes fully authenticated "TV everywhere" rights, enabling it to present NFL on Fox-related content on tablets and other digital platforms, excluding mobile phones, the rights to which are held by Verizon.
The NFL said it has yet to be determined if the broadcast carriers will be able to stream their games live.
In its new deal, CBS largely remains the broadcast home of the AFC package, which matches up well with its station group: 12 of CBS's 14 owned stations, including New York, San Francisco/Oakland, Boston, Miami, Denver, Pittsburgh and Baltimore are all AFC markets
In addition, as part of the NFL's expanded "flexible scheduling," CBS will also broadcast games from the NFC, marking the first time the Tiffany Network will broadcast matchups from both conferencesin the same season. Further details on enhanced flexible scheduling are still in development.
CBS, according to the NFL, also has secured tablet and other digital rights as part of its new package.
CBS will broadcast Super Bowl L in 2016, Super Bowl LIII in 2019 and Super Bowl LVI in 2022, in addition to Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans in 2013.
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