SBD/September 8, 2011/NFL Season Preview

NFL TV Negotiations Expected Soon With Deals Set To Expire After '13 Season

Players have suggested that new media deals could be worth a combined $8B
The NFL's TV deals run through the '13 season and Fox Sports Chair David Hill expects that "it won't be long before negotiations get going" to extend those agreements, according to Rachel Cohen of the AP. During CBA discussions, the players contended that the NFL "would sign new media deals worth $8 billion, nearly double the current total." Considering the "oft-mentioned factoid that the league is a $9 billion-a-year business, a significant increase in TV rights is a major change in the size of the revenue pie divvied up by the new" CBA. The NFL was a "highly valuable property when the last TV contracts were agreed to" in '04 and '05. But even in the short time since then, the league's "place in the overall television landscape has shifted dramatically." NBC Sports Chair Mark Lazarus: "I'm sure the NFL would say that, and we'd say we bring value to them. Yes, they are valuable properties, important properties, for us, for the three main constituencies we think about. We think about the consumer obviously, and they care. For NBC, we think about our affiliates, and it's an important asset for them, and for marketers it's an important asset." CBS Sports Chair Sean McManus: "It's the dominant sport, and in a lot of ways it's a very dominant television property in general. It continues to perform extraordinarily well for us." Media research firm Wedge Partners analyst Martin Pyykkonen estimates that CBS "will have an operating income margin of about 10 percent this NFL season, with similar numbers for Fox." Cohen noted that is "less than the average in all of television, but major sporting events carry intangible benefits such as the opportunity to promote other shows to a wide audience" (AP, 9/5). SI's Peter King reports as he "traveled through camps this summer and talked to owners, they seemed sure that the negotiations for the next TV deal will be historic." King: "The price could be 50% to 70% higher -- and if one of the current networks drops out (unlikely), another cable outfit such as Turner is more than ready to jump in." King writes, "Good news for the players in 2014. The salary cap would sky-rocket that year along with the TV rights" (SI, 9/12 issue).

GOLDEN REALITY: DAILY VARIETY's Michael Ventre wrote for networks "with the fall TV primetime season on tap, the marquee matchups mean more than just ratings." Fox Exec VP/Research & Programming Bill Wanger said, "We can run promos inside our NFL coverage to launch new primetime shows, in addition to the World Series and other sports programming." ESPN VP/Programming & Acquisitions Leah LaPlaca said that the "NFL's importance continues to grow in the business partly because an overwhelming percentage of its audience watches the games in real time." LaPlaca: "It's DVR proof. It's really the ultimate reality TV" (DAILY VARIETY, 9/3).

MEDIA BRIEFING: SI.com's Richard Deitsch presented the site's "NFL broadcasting guide to the 2011 season." Deitsch wrote CBS' "headline addition" was play-by-play announcer Marv Albert. McManus: "If you have a chance to add someone like that to your team, you would be sorry not to." Albert will be joined by analyst Rich Gannon in the broadcast booth, another addition "CBS management is high on." Deitsch noted Bill Richards will take over for Scott Ackerson as Exec Producer of "FOX NFL Sunday." Richards said that he "wanted the pregame show to have a better 'live' feel this year." Richards: "I want to make it more obvious to the viewer that we have over 60 cameras at games across the country." Bill Parcells will return "for his third stint" with ESPN. ESPN's Senior Coordinating Producer for the NFL Seth Markman said, "Bill makes us better every time he's here. He'll be a major part of the Sunday Show. He's got a unique perspective as someone who has coached successfully in this league for many years and then moved into the front office. In my time in the business, there is nobody that knows more football than him." NBC will do an "in-game feature titled 'Crossing the Line,' which will offer a series of plays from the defense's view." Deitsch wrote, "Much of NBC's web strategy is driven by (Mike) Florio's Pro Football Talk, so the television arm is going to do everything possible to feature him on all things NFL." NFL Network will feature a "new team" of play-by-play announcer Brad Nessler and analyst Mike Mayock on "Thursday Night Football," which Deitsch wrote will give the net "an opportunity for much needed consistency because that's been the major issues with this broadcast." Deitsch noted former NFL Net play-by-play announcer Bob Papa "is a quality broadcaster who got dealt a very bad hand last season," and he "deserves a national gig at a network" (SI.com, 9/6).
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