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Amazon, Disney & Others Are Fighting for NFL TV Rights

Football fans watching intenselyLast week, NFL owners approved the terms of a bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players Association. The Collective Bargaining Agreement could affect everything from expanding the regular season game schedule to changing salary caps. The agreement would also allow for new negotiations when it comes to broadcast rights for NFL games when current deals are up in 2022.

CNBC reports that while Amazon, Apple, and Google will be making plays to get streaming rights to NFL games, sources say that the NFL likely won’t sell exclusive rights to a streaming service. The NFL currently has relationships with Disney (ESPN and ABC), Comccast (NBC), ViacomCBS (CBS), and Fox. The source for CNBC says the league is likely to stick with those relationships rather than making big changes and risk a ratings drop.

That doesn’t mean that the NFL is opposed to growing its streaming presence. “We are made for broadcast TV, but we are open to streaming,” one NFL power-broker told Peter King of NBC Sports. “It’s the next big thing, and the tech companies want to be involved in our game. They should. We’re the only lock money-maker in sports.”

In past seasons, Amazon has bought rights to stream NFL games as they air on broadcast TV. It’s likely that Amazon will make the same deal for future seasons to air Thursday Night Football games. Sources for CNBC say that Amazon may also try to bring in Sunday Ticket to draw in more Prime subscribers.

Bob Iger has commented that Disney would be interested in rights to Sunday Ticket, along with potentially getting simulcast rights for Monday Night Football on ESPN and ABC. NFL rights could boost ESPN+ subscriptions.

Sources also say that ViacomCBS and Fox would be interested in keeping their Sunday afternoon football packages and Fox would also bid to maintain rights to Thursday Night Football.

At $1.5 billion per year, rights for Sunday Ticket will reportedly not be worth the cost to AT&T anymore, when the current agreement for exclusive rights ends in 2022.  It’s possible that the NFL will divide Sunday Ticket rights between a streaming service and a traditional broadcaster, or non-exclusive rights could be sold to several streaming services at a lower price.

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