The NFL television landscape is shifting over the next five years, as Fox Sports secured the rights to "Thursday Night Football" in what has been reported as an absolute monster of a deal.
An agreement was announced on Wednesday morning between the NFL and Fox, and multiple reports peg the number at over $3 BILLION for the next five years. More specifically, according to Darren Rovell of ESPN, the NFL will get $660 million per year from Fox over the course of the deal, which means they're hauling in $3.3 billion.
Not too shabby for a dying sport everyone refuses to watch because of national anthem reasons!
"This agreement is the culmination of over 10 years of strategic growth around 'Thursday Night Football,' a period during which this property has grown from a handful of late season games on NFL Network to a full season of games and one of the most popular shows on broadcast television with additional distribution via cable and digital channels," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "As one of the leaders in sports television and a recognized innovator of NFL game broadcasts for many years, we're excited to be extending our partnership with FOX Sports, one of our most trusted and valued partners, to include 'Thursday Night Football.'"
The combination of the "Thursday Night Football" package, along with the NFC Sunday package Fox already has the rights to, means Fox will be spending $1.75 billion per year on the rights to broadcast NFL football games.
"Football is in our blood at Fox and we understand that nothing beats the NFL when it comes to television that captures people's attention," 21st Century Fox president Peter Rice said in a statement. "Our historic relationship with the NFL dates back to the earliest days of Fox, and we couldn't be more excited to expand our deep and enduring partnership to include primetime games on Thursday night."
The deal will look a lot like previous contracts for "Thursday Night Football" -- Fox will broadcast 11 games between Weeks 4-15, not counting Thanksgiving, with those games simulcast on NFL Network. Per the NFL's release, an additional seven games will air exclusively on NFL Network, with Fox producing the full 18-game slate. This looks a lot like previous CBS and NBC contracts.
Interestingly, streaming rights are still up in the air, it appears. The digital partner, per Goodell on a conference call, can have a contract that does not line up with Fox's five-year deal. So, in essence, the NFL can go out and partner with Amazon, Facebook, Yahoo! or whoever over the next five years as it continues to experiment on what avenue it wants to take with respect to next-generation streaming situations.
Two other points of note about this deal:
One, Fox and the NFL did not specify what announcers will be on the call for TNF. Logically, it would stand that Joe Buck and Troy Aikman would get the call as part of Fox's No. 1 crew, but it is possible they could experiment throughout the year with different combinations. Buck's work with the MLB on Fox will probably keep him off the call for football over a pretty big stretch in October and November.
And two, Fox appears to already have a sponsor for TNF, as it's called "Thursday Night Football presented by Bud Light." That's interesting, because you're going to see a LOT of Bud Light in your face (what's new for football games, beer and football go together like spaghetti and meatballs) but more so because it means a big chunk of that contract is being paid for in sponsorship dollars. Allocating $3.3 billion over five years is easier when there is some offset money guaranteed by someone by Bud Light.
Perhaps you don't like "Thursday Night Football"? Too bad, because it's here to stay for the next half decade.