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Published September 9, 2011
THE COST OF DOING BUSINESS: USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand notes ESPN "will be able to create lots of new NFL programming" with the eight-year extension. ESPN gains access "to 500 hours of new programming annually that can include having 'NFL' in shows' titles, something that can only be done with league approval." As part of the new arrangement, "Sunday NFL Countdown" will expand from two to three hours and start at 10:00am ET, beginning this weekend. Also, viewers will be able to watch ESPN's "MNF" on iPads (USA TODAY, 9/9). ESPN Exec VP/Content John Skipper said, "The value of the NFL to us is the ubiquity of the sport across our platforms all the time. It’s just stupendous for us. It’s daily product -- we don’t have a day without the NFL." Skipper called the new deal "fiscally prudent" for ESPN, adding, "We will be able to absorb and continue to grow" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/9). ESPN will pay an estimated $1.9B annually to the NFL through '21, and in Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley wrote, "No Super Bowl, no conference championship, no playoff games for ESPN, except a wild card game at some point, maybe. That is beyond baffling. It’s stupefying. That kind of money should be able to buy everything." While ESPN gains 500 more hours of NFL program each year, Wolfley wonders, "How much NFL programming is too much?" (JSONLINE.com, 9/8).
PAY AS YOU GO: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Sam Schechner reports ESPN "won't have to swallow the entire jump in costs from one contract to the next all at once." A source indicated that the "amount it has been paying for NFL games rises over the course of each deal." Nomura Equity Research analyst Michael Nathanson estimated that ESPN's payments to the NFL "will jump 24% in 2014 before resuming a compound annual growth rate of 6%" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/9).