The NFL wants to charge double to broadcast its games, but Disney (who owns ABC and ESPN) is fighting back citing the current high price tag it pays for Monday Night Football, according to CNBC.

What’s Happening:

  • The NFL is in discussions with all of their existing network partners, including Disney-owned ESPN, regarding renewal rates for broadcasting rights, hoping to get their primary packages complete by March 17th, before the start of the league year.
  • The NFL wants to increase their rates by 100%, doubling their current rates, with other partners NBC, CBS, and Fox reportedly likely to accept, but Disney, who pays substantially more than the other networks for Monday Night Football is pushing back.
  • Reportedly, Disney agreed to pay almost $2 billion annually for Monday Night Football in 2011 in a deal that runs through this year. The number is substantially larger than the $1.1 billion for Fox, $1 billion for CBS, and $960 Million for NBC’s NFL programming.
  • Reportedly, Disney has already rejected paying anywhere close to the new prices suggested, coming in at almost $4 billion dollars. Disney CEO Bob Chapek even referred to the NFL conversations during an earnings call last week.
  • The deal includes more than just the games themselves, as Disney also gets the rights for highlights on ESPN, branding rights for programming, and, important to Chapek’s direct-to-consumer initiatives, the streaming rights.
  • Disney is also reportedly asking for more in the new deal, including two games on Monday nights, with one airing on ABC with another on ESPN, with ABC also included in the Super Bowl rotation.
  • NFL Games have traditionally been among the most watched broadcasts on television, with the 5 top broadcasts of 2020 being NFL Games. However, there has been a decline in viewership among younger audiences, with a decline in Super Bowl viewing among 18-49 year olds over the last ten years.

What They’re Saying:

  • Disney CEO Bob Chapek: “We’re looking at the long-term trends of sports viewership. “We’ve had a long relationship with the NFL. If there’s a deal that will be accretive to shareholder value, we will certainly entertain that and look at that. But our first filter will be to say whether it makes sense for shareholder value going forward.”