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FOX Begins Negotiations To Extend NFL Deal

“Even with COVID-19 concern for the 2020 season, the NFL isn’t going to accept a discount.”

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With their NFL rights agreement up in 2022, FOX continues to be in the “very, very early discussions” of negotiating a renewal according to Deadline.

Because of COVID-19, timing isn’t great for the NFL to lure multiple suitors, but with most of their rights contracts extending into 2022, there’s no rush in finding lucrative and mutually beneficial deals. In March, it was similarly reported that the NFL was beginning to discuss new licensing partnerships, but at the time, we were unsure of the impact COVID-19 was going to have on sports and the economy. We still don’t know how far the global pandemic will reach, but it’s likely more significant than the NFL anticipated three months ago. 

Even with economic downfalls because of COVID-19, the NFL shouldn’t struggle to find platforms interested in spending big for the product. Boosting the regular season schedule to include a 17th game, along with two additional playoff contests, helps feed the desire from networks that can’t get enough NFL football.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has also been vocal about his willingness to attract platforms and offers from companies beyond traditional TV networks for their rights deals.

“I think this next negotiation is going to be fun, more complex,” Goodell told CNBC last summer regarding TV partnerships. “Probably will include additional players because our whole strategy is to have great reach and to be able to engage our fans. And you have to do that on different platforms.”

FOX, however, is reportedly willing to pay significantly more than what they currently do for NFL rights, which will likely be necessary. Following a 10% viewership decline in 2017, the last two seasons enjoyed 5% improvements each year. Ad revenue last season was said to have increased from around $4.2 billion to $4.4 billion. 

As viewership and ad spending increased in recent seasons, similar jumps have been estimated for the cost of NFL rights fees. Even with COVID-19 concern for the 2020 season, the NFL isn’t going to accept a discount. Sunday afternoon packages are expected to cost around $2 billion, with Monday Night Football commanding closer to $3 billion. The most recent deal FOX signed with the NFL came in 2011, worth approximately $1.1 billion annually. 

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Poll Data Shows Tepid Response To Tom Brady Joining FOX

“A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.”

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FOX Sports reportedly signed Tom Brady to a 10-year deal worth $375 million to make the seven-time Super Bowl champion the new lead analyst for its top NFL broadcast once his playing career is over.

A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.

The poll said 2 in 5 NFL fans have a better opinion of FOX Sports following the deal, with 41% of NFL fans being at least somewhat more likely to watch a game with Brady as an analyst.

Data shows one-third of NFL fans think the deal Brady reportedly agreed to is worth about the same as its reported value.

That reaction could probably be described as “tepid”. That may be exactly what FOX expects and maybe all it wants.

Last week, Domonique Foxworth of ESPN suggested that the paycheck is less about what the network thinks Tom Brady means to viewers and more about showing the NFL that the network values its product.

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FOX Not Interested In Joining Streaming Sports Wars

“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take?”

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The CEO of FOX doesn’t plan on forking over billions of dollars to be people’s last choice for paid streaming services.

Lachlan Murdoch said at a time when more than 80% of American homes already have some kind of paid streaming service, it’s not worthwhile to jump on that train.

Amazon, Netflix and Disney+ typically account for the average streaming presence in a household.

“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take,” Murdoch said at a tech conference earlier this year. “And so the billions of dollars that’s being spent by multiple aspirants is all for that last position. And so we are extraordinarily — I want to say that — we’re happy to be sort of sitting on the sidelines.”

Murdoch told Benjamin Swinburne that when it comes to the NFL, FOX’s media rights are the same as CBS, NBC and ESPN. The main focus for the company remains on keeping games on TV.

“We don’t believe it helps us to put those rights under a streaming service or free on over-the-air. We think it’s very important that those rights remain exclusive to the broadcast environment,” Murdoch said.

FOX does stream games through its app, but it is only the games it is also carrying on its broadcast network or FS1.

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NBA Draft To Get Simulcast From ESPN & ABC

“This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.”

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ESPN is set for the 2022 NBA Draft coming up on June 23 at 8 p.m. from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The network announced Wednesday the crews that will handle coverage on both ESPN and ABC.

ABC will broadcast the first round in primetime. Kevin Negandhi will host and will be joined by Stephen A. Smith, Chiney Ogwumike and Jalen Rose. Monica McNutt will be reporting and interviewing draftees.

This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.

Malika Andrews will host both rounds for ESPN. Jay Bilas, Kendrick Perkins and Adrian Wojnarowski will share the set. Analysts Bobby Marks and Mike Schmitz will contribute.

“We’re thrilled that Malika Andrews will host this year’s ESPN presentation as she brings her well-documented, widespread skillset to our main set,” said David Roberts, head of NBA and Studio Production for ESPN. “The event will showcase the scope and depth of our NBA and college basketball talent roster with accomplished journalists and high-profile personalities across ESPN, ABC and ESPN Radio.”

ESPN will air a pre-draft red carpet show hosted by Cassidy Hubbarth from 5-6 p.m. Perkins and Richard Jefferson will also make appearances.

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