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SBD/September 8, 2011/NFL Season Preview
ESPN, NFL Formally Sign Eight-Year Rights Deal Extension Worth $1.9B Annually
Published September 8, 2011
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INSIDE THE TALKS: Negotiations started a year ago, around Labor Day ‘10. Word of the pending deal was first reported in January, when the two sides agreed on the broad outline of a deal, but the labor situation that led to a four-and-a-half-month lockout put further negotiations on hold. ESPN and the NFL returned to the negotiating table soon after the NFL’s lockout ended. The NFL now is expected to turn its attention to selling a new eight-game package of early-season games, a package that has attracted interest from NBC, Turner, ESPN and Fox. Then, the NFL will look to renew its broadcast deals. Even before the current negotiation, ESPN was paying the league much more than any of the NFL’s other TV partners. ESPN’s annual payout of $1.1B dwarfs the annual rights fees paid by Fox ($720M), CBS ($620M) and NBC ($603M). Those rights fees could eclipse $1B per year.