One of the most expensive and lucrative rights of any American sport is probably the television rights to broadcast the National Football League (NFL) games.
It was after World War II that professional football was brought into prominence by television. Since then, the broadcast of National Football League has been the most-watched programs on American television and it was on owning the NFL broadcasting rights that the financial fortune of the entire television network rested.
How much did these television networks pay to broadcast NFL?
Since the 1960s, all regular season and playoff games broadcast in the United States have been aired by national television networks. Until the broadcast contract ended in 2013,the gigantic television networks NBC ($3.6B) , CBS ($3.73B) and Fox ($4.27B) — as well as cable television’s ESPN ($8.8B) — paid a combined total of US$20.4 billion to broadcast NFL games. The same networks will pay $39.6 billion for exactly the same broadcast rights from 2014 to 2022. Click here to read more about the NFL broadcast rights cost.
The NFL thus holds broadcast contracts with four companies (Comcast, CBS Corporation, The Walt Disney Company/Hearst Corporation and 21st Century Fox) that have control over the majority of the country’s television product. In 2017, the NFL games attracted the top three rates for a 30-second advertisement: $699,602 for NBC Sunday Night Football, $550,709 for Thursday Night Football (NBC) and $549,791 for Thursday Night Football (CBS).
Under the current contracts, Fox and CBS have the rights to air regionally shown games on Sunday afternoons, which primarily carry games of NFC and AFC teams. ESPN and NBC air nationally televised regular season games on Sunday and Monday nights while CBS, NBC and the NFL Network share Thursday night games during the regular season.
ESPN airs one game during the postseason, while NBC airs two and Fox and CBS air the rest of the NFC and AFC games. Since the 2006 season, the Super Bowl has rotated among Fox, CBS and NBC annually.
Current broadcasting contracts
One of the most expensive rights of American entertainment property is the television rights to the NFL. Sports have remained to be one of the few entertainment properties that guarantee a diversified and large audience, thanks to its increased specialization of broadcast and cable TV networks.
With millions of fans looking forward to the Super Bowl, it’s no wonder that it often ranks among the most watched shows of the year. Four of Nielsen Media Research’s top 10 programs of all time are Super Bowls. Networks spend a lot of money in purchasing broadcasting rights to the NFL since it’s an effective strategy of raising their profile.
Under the current television contracts, which began during the 2014 season, regular season games are broadcast on five networks: Fox, CBS, ESPN, NBC and the NFL Network.
Due to the guidelines of FCC ramping up the requirements of opening up the second audio program audio channel to access audio description, major networks have invested more in audio description. In addition, all of the broadcasting partners of NFL have also added Spanish language audio commentary of games, either over the SAP channel or through a separate channel.
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