- ESPN currently pays US$1.9bn a year for MNF rights
- Smaller fee increase to put Disney closer with NFL’s other domestic broadcasters
- CBS, Fox and NBC expected to pay around US$2bn a year for next NFL rights deals
The National Football League (NFL) and Disney have agreed the outline of a new US$2.6 billion a year domestic broadcast rights deal for ESPN to retain its Monday night package, according to Sports Business Journal (SBJ).
ESPN’s current contract expires at the end of the 2021 season and recent reports suggested that the two parties were as much as US$1 billion apart in their negotiations on annual fees. However, according to SBJ, that has now been settled, with the new contract seeing an increase in annual fee and the return of Disney’s ABC commercial network to the Super Bowl rotation for the first time since 2006.
The deal will also reportedly see ESPN retain its valuable highlight rights, while a select number of regular season games will be simulcast on ABC.
The report says that contracts have not been signed, but that a deal is ‘very close at hand’.
NFL Media’s vice president of communications, Alex Riethmiller, told SBJ that its report was inaccurate and said that the NFL does not “negotiate through the media”. ESPN also declined to comment to SBJ.
If the reported fee is accurate, Disney’s increase in fee will not be as steep as its rivals are expected to pay, but at the end of the negotiation period on the next broadcast contracts the media giant will end up paying closer to what Fox, CBS and NBC hand over to the NFL annually.
ESPN currently pays US$1.9 billion per year, the highest fee of all the NFL’s domestic broadcast partners. Fox, CBS and NBC are all expected to see their NFL rights fees double to around US$2 billion a year, with those contracts reportedly set to be announced by the league imminently.
With the incumbent networks set to retain their NFL packages, the SBJ report adds that the Thursday night package will be dropped by Fox, with Amazon Prime and the in-house NFL Network set to carry the games.
The NFL and Disney have agreed the outline of ESPN's new US$2.6 billion a year domestic broadcast rights