SBD/January 15, 2014/Media

NFL May Not Initially Garner A Huge Sum For Its New Package Of Thursday Games

A new Thursday night package would leave NFL Network with five games
The short duration of the NFL's proposed deal to sell a package of Thursday night games "might make it difficult for the league to demand a huge sum," according to Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES. With the league only putting one year out to bid initially, it will "probably receive less" than the $400M-plus annual rights fee that Comcast-owned Versus "offered for eight games before the league put them on NFL Network" in '06. However, it "takes only one network, desperate for the boost that NFL games can bring, to offer the league an overly generous amount." The games being offered "would be from the first half of the season, which would help promote NFL Network’s games later in the year." If those games "average substantially more than the seven million viewers NFL Network attracted a game this past season, it will be clear that the past performance had been constrained more by the channel’s relative lack of distribution than by the quality of the schedule." Horizon Media Research Dir Brad Adgate said that ABC, whose primetime audience is 60% female, "appears to have the greatest need for the games if it wants to increase its male viewership." ABC is the only broadcast network without NFL games, but Sandomir notes the Walt Disney Co. "may feel it has enough invested with the NFL through its ESPN contract without making an ABC deal." If a deal is struck for the new Thursday package, NFL Network "would be down to five games a year." The league "would probably have to add two or three games, from Fox and CBS’s schedules, to comply with guarantees it has made to cable, satellite and telephone companies and to avoid any reduction in its subscriber fee," which is reported to be $1.22 a month (N.Y. TIMES, 1/15).
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