Why The Networks Pay Billions For Football

TV networks (along with DirectTV) are paying the NFL a collective $3.7 billion a year for the right to show their games. Are they getting their money’s worth?

Yes, says Campbell Mithun media buyer/columnist John Rash. In fact, it could be argued pro football is propping up the network TV business. Without the NFL, both CBS and NBC are down (11% and 22% respectively) in 18-49 y/y.

If anyone needed a reminder, check out the ratings for the Patriots-Giants game over the weekend. Thanks a unique simulcast deal, the game aired on three networks and ended up the most-watched regular season game since 1995, drawing 34 million viewers. And of course, sports are nearly DVR-proof: Nearly all watched the game live, or on slight delay, meaning advertisers got full effect for their spots.

Those numbers also point out why you’re unlikely to routinely watch full NFL games on your PC or mobile phone anytime soon: Both the NFL and its network customers/competitors are convinced that making the games more widely available diminishes their value, and they’re unlikely to have their minds changed anytime soon.

Related: NFL Punts, Pats-Giants Game To Air On CBS, NBC
NBC Pays For Notre Dame Losses

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