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NFL exploring minority sale of media business

Goldman Sachs brought in to explore options for NFL Network, RedZone and NFL.com.

24 June 2021 Ed Dixon
  • NFL looking to align TV and digital holdings with larger media and tech companies, the WSJ reports
  • League “anticipate speaking to a number of interested parties”, says NFL spokesman
  • NFL Network currently in 56.2m households, according to Sportico

The National Football League (NFL) is exploring a potential sale of its media business, including NFL Network, RedZone and NFL.com.

Goldman Sachs has been hired by the league to explore various options for the league’s media properties, including the sale of one or more minority stakes in the business, according to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

The WSJ report adds that the decision from the NFL to seek partners is motivated by the league’s belief that its TV and digital holdings will benefit from being aligned with bigger media and technology companies, as opposed to continuing as standalone operations.

The NFL informed team owners of the plans in a letter sent on 23rd June, according to the WSJ.

“The NFL has a proven track record of creating leading media platforms that develop significant audiences so we anticipate speaking to a number of interested parties,” a league spokesman said in a statement to Sportico.

“We do not intend to provide an update on this process until it has concluded and will not speculate about potential outcomes.”

The news comes a little over three months since the NFL confirmed its new domestic broadcast rights contracts, which are worth a staggering US$110 billion over their 11-season run until 2033.

Now, the league has turned its attention to its own media business. Its three biggest assets are NFL Network, which broadcasts seven regular season games per year, pay-TV channel NFL RedZone and the NFL.com website. Other assets include the NFL app and archive content.

The NFL Network alone is in 56.2 million households, according to Sportico. For comparison, ESPN is in approximately 82 million homes.

Currently, no parties have declared their interest in any deal at this early stage. Sportico speculates that buyers could come from outside the traditional media world, citing tech companies such as Amazon and Facebook, who are investing more in sports rights and content. Another potential option could arrive from the expanding US sports betting space, such as DraftKings.

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