NFL Scores Dominating Rights Deal. Can Advertisers Stage A Comeback?

NFL headlines have been breathtaking: A collective $100 billion-plus TV right deal, at mostly a 100% (or more) annual cost hike for TV networks.

If you are a regular NFL advertiser watching this, what is your reaction and worries? Figure marketers may already be readjusting long-term linear TV plans.

On the flip side, figure the ever-higher NFL expense for TV networks -- and no doubt sports in general -- may need to think outside the box, luring regular nonsports advertisers to consider dabbling in the big game. All must consider what to do about the acceleration of decreasing viewership on live, linear TV.

TV networks will need to find ways to raise advertising pricing around the big NFL programming in the next decade.

MoffettNathanson Research estimates ESPN will see a 42% annual rise, to $2.7 billion a year, while NBC, Fox and CBS, will spike from 105% to 110% -- $2.0 billion, $2.25 billion and $2.1 billion, respectively.



ESPN gets a bit of a break, considering it paid much more for its contract the last time around ($1.9 billion) than NBC, Fox, or CBS did with their deals -- $960 million, $1.1 billion and, $1 billion, respectively.

It isn’t just ad revenues that will need to do more than just tow the line. Networks will need to find ways to boost affiliate fees (in the case of ESPN) and broadcast retransmissions fees (for NBC, CBS, and Fox).

The wild card -- and potential major upside -- is what really happens with respective streaming services: ESPN+ (for Walt Disney); Peacock (for NBC Universal); Tubi (for Fox); and Paramount+ (for ViacomCBS).

Not only do they get to simultaneously air games alongside their sister legacy linear TV networks, but they also get a few exclusive games. Then add in the biggest news -- Amazon’s exclusive regular season airings of “Thursday Night Football” for the length of the deal.

It will be interesting to see what happens to the NFL football viewing audience on those particular weekends. And perhaps more importantly, how advertisers will react.

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