NFL License Fee For Its 'Sunday Ticket' About To Skyrocket - Should We Expect Anything Less?

The sale of the NFL's last big TV package of games --- its Sunday Ticket offering, where users can see a number of out-of-market regional NFL Sunday afternoon games -- is about to commence.

Guess what? The license-fee price is going to skyrocket -- just like other pieces of the NFL TV franchises.

DirecTV now pays $1.5 billion a year for the package -- which could rise to a crazy-high $7.5 billion a year. Well, forget about those 10% higher gas prices nowadays. The gridiron is where there is real inflation.

Consider that the NFL has made mostly 10-year deals with NBCUniversal, Fox Corp. and Disney's ABC and ESPN, as well as a “Thursday Night Football” deal with Amazon -- totaling an otherworldly $100 billion. Imagine adding another $70.5 billion when now including Sunday Ticket?

Perhaps that's why DirecTV is floating the prospect that it could keep some of Sunday Ticket, through a partnership with another TV or digital media company.



If all this sounds crazy, one needs to consider that overall NFL viewership continues to climb--- now around an average 16.3 million per game on linear TV networks.

In years past, this might not have been much in the way of news. But any viewership increases for linear TV programming -- year-over-year -- are extremely rare (even including the ups and down of live TV news programming).

Still, all this might not be that out of line. Compare NFL dollars to the money spent on entertainment programming.

For example, amid expected sharp expense rises in producing entertainment programming, fiction and nonfiction, Netflix is expected to spend more than $17 billion this year on content, with other legacy media companies also pointing to $10 billion to $12 billion in total content spend.

For the NFL, over the next few years, this means total TV networks are spending around $10 billion a year. Possibly adding Sunday Ticket means that spending would skyrocket to $17 billion a year.

Sure, total TV/digital hours for the NFL are much less than the amount of hours produced prime-time entertainment. But for some, especially when it comes to live TV viewing, sports is a must-have addition to fully round out one's broad-based programming efforts.

The question is whether advertisers -- who continue to see soaring NFL media prices -- will continue to get their money's worth.

Next story loading loading..