That breaks down to an average of $3.1 billion a year, representing a 63 per cent increase over the $1.9 billion paid annually by CBS, NBC and Fox for NFL football under their current contracts. The new accords, which take effect after the 2013 season and run through 2022, come just two months after the NFL signed an eight-year pact with Walt Disney’s ESPN that boosted the cable sports network’s average annual rights fee to $1.9 billion from $1.1 billion.
Although ratings for the broadcast networks continue to decline as viewers flock to cable and the Internet for entertainment, sports programmes still deliver big audiences. So far this season, NFL games on NBC, CBS and Fox are all averaging roughly 20 million viewers — far more than the typical sitcom or drama.
With its deals with the broadcast networks and ESPN and the $1 billion a year DirecTV shells out for its Sunday Ticket package, allowing subscribers to watch any game they choose, the NFL will soon be getting about $6 billion a year in TV rights fees.