Bidding for the rights to broadcast the NFL’s Thursday night games will open soon and with several networks looking to grab the last available package for a while, the price is expected to skyrocket.
According to Marisa Guthrie of The Hollywood Reporter, several networks have already expressed interest in broadcasting the Thursday night package, with the deal expected to jump from the $US300 million CBS is paying this year to an average annual value of at least $US600 million.
“Analysts predict a long-term Thursday Night Football arrangement could go for $US600 million annually and potentially much higher when dealmaking begins in earnest in January,” writes Guthrie.
The NFL currently receives about $US6.5 billion annually in broadcast rights just from the major networks in the United States.
With the other national television packages locked up through either 2021 or 2022, the Thursday night package will be the last one available for several years.
CBS, Fox, NBC, and Turner have all shown interest in acquiring the broadcast rights. However, according to the report, the games “are said to be a top priority for NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke.”
NBC currently pays about $US1.0 billion per year to broadcast Sunday Night Football.
Interestingly, ESPN is not reported to have interest. ESPN currently pays about $US1.9 billion per year for the Monday Night Football package. While expensive, ESPN also will air one playoff game beginning this year, and is also paying a premium for access to the league, the teams, and the players.
ESPN’s lack of interest is likely due to recent budgets cuts that led to the layoffs of more than 300 employees. Those cuts appear to be tied to an upcoming surge in the amount ESPN is paying for all of their live sports.
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