NFL signs long-term media deals
March 19, 2021
The National Football League (NFL) has signed long-term agreements with media partners Amazon, CBS, ESPN/ABC, FOX, and NBC for the distribution of games over television and digital platforms, as well as additional media rights.
With these agreements, the NFL has expanded its digital footprint to reach a broader audience while maintaining its commitment to keep all NFL games on over-the-air television. The new agreements will begin with the 2023 season and run through the 2033 season.
“These new media deals will provide our fans even greater access to the games they love,” declared NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. We’re proud to grow our partnerships with the most innovative media companies in the market. Along with our recently completed labour agreement with the NFLPA, these distribution agreements bring an unprecedented era of stability to the League and will permit us to continue to grow and improve our game.”
The NFL’s new media agreements grant the following rights to their partners:
AMAZON: In the NFL’s first ever all-digital package, Amazon Prime Video has acquired the rights to be the exclusive home of Thursday Night Football across hundreds of compatible digital devices. The NFL and Amazon first partnered on Thursday Night Football as part of a Tri-Cast distribution model during the 2017 season.
CBS: With its new multi-platform agreement, CBS retains the rights for the American Football Conference (AFC) package of Sunday afternoon games. All games will be broadcast on the CBS Television Network and streamed live on Paramount+, ViacomCBS’s flagship streaming service. CBS, America’s most-watched network for the past 12-years, is the NFL’s longest-running media partner having first begun televising NFL games in 1956.
ESPN: ESPN will continue to be the NFL’s television partner for cable’s most-watched series, Monday Night Football. Additionally, ABC has acquired the rights to televise two Super Bowls along with exclusive regular season games. ESPN+ subscribers can stream one International Series game on an exclusive national basis every season and the new agreement allows ESPN the opportunity to simulcast all ABC and ESPN games on ESPN+. The new agreement for ESPN covers 11 years, including a 10-year deal beginning in 2023 and a bridge year deal in 2022.
FOX: FOX has renewed its agreement to produce the National Football Conference (NFC) package of Sunday afternoon games that it acquired in 1994. FOX expanded its digital rights, including for its AVoD streaming platform Tubi to deliver NFL programming on digital platforms. America’s Game of the Week has been the most-watched show in all of television for the last 12 seasons and the most-watched NFL window for the last 20 seasons.
NBC: Sunday Night Football, the #1 Primetime show on TV for an unprecedented 10th consecutive year, will continue to be produced by NBC Sports. In addition to simulcasting all Sunday Night Football games, Peacock, NBCUniversal’s streaming service, will deliver an exclusive feed of a select number of NFL games over the course of the agreement. NBC first acquired its package of primetime games in 2006.
NFL NETWORK, the television home of the NFL, will continue to televise a select schedule of exclusive NFL games on a yearly basis.
These new media agreements provide fans with more ways to watch NFL games than ever before. Highlighted by broad distribution across linear and digital platforms, these agreements provide fans with the following:
- INCREASED DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION: With games on Amazon Prime Video, ESPN+, Paramount+, Peacock, and FOX Digital platforms – in addition to NFL Mobile and digital platforms – NFL games are now available in more places and on more devices than ever before to meet the evolving consumption habits of NFL fans.
- BROADCAST DISTRIBUTION: The NFL continues to be the only sports league that delivers all of its games – regular-season and playoffs – on free, over-the-air television. Through the new agreement with ESPN, the NFL will broaden its broadcast distribution to include ABC, which will carry two Super Bowls along with additional exclusive regular season games each year. (Monday Night Football and Thursday Night Football are required by contract to be carried on over-the-air, broadcast stations in the cities of the participating teams.)
- INCREASED ‘FLEX’-ABILITY: As part of these agreements, there will be an increased ability to flex games to Sunday Night Football and Monday Night Football allowing fans to watch more meaningful games in primetime.
- INTERACTIVITY & ALTERNATE BROADCASTS: The NFL’s media partners will now have greater ability to innovate around their productions and provide interactive elements such as stats/data, chat and integrated social feeds as part of their digital presentations. Additionally, there will be alternate presentations of select NFL games in addition to each partner’s main production similar to the one’s fans viewed during the 2020 post-season with ESPN’s MegaCast and CBS Sports’ presentation on Nickelodeon.
- CBS, FOX and NBC will each televise three Super Bowls while ABC will carry two during the term of the agreements. The following is the Super Bowl broadcast schedule through 2033.
- CBS: 2023, 2027, 2031
- FOX: 2024, 2028, 2032
- NBC: 2025, 2029, 2033
- ESPN/ABC: 2026, 2030