NFL expands digital distribution while continuing to be the only sport committed to showing all games on over-the-air television
MARCH 18, 2021: The National Football League announced today that it has signed long-term agreements with media partners Amazon, CBS, ESPN/ABC, FOX, and NBC for the distribution of NFL games, the industry's most valuable content, 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. We're proud to grow our partnerships with the most innovative media companies in the market," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. "Along with our recently completed labor 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' 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 postseason 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
The NFL is the most valuable content in all of sports and entertainment. Over the last five years, 24 of the top 25 and 77 of the top 100 most-watched programs on television have been NFL games.
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Mike Hopkins, SVP of Prime Video and Amazon Studios
"NFL games are the most watched live programming in the United States, and this unprecedented Thursday Night Football package gives tens of millions of new and existing Prime members exclusive access to must-watch live football on Prime Video. NFL fans from across the country will enjoy a premium viewing experience with Thursday Night Football, as well as access to a broad selection of content including award-winning Amazon Originals available on Prime Video."
Bob Bakish, President and CEO, ViacomCBS
"We are thrilled to extend and expand our long-term partnership with the NFL to create even more value for ViacomCBS and for NFL fans. Today's groundbreaking deal ensures that more big games will be available on CBS and Paramount+, with greater NFL programming opportunities featured across all ViacomCBS platforms including Pluto TV, vastly expanding the NFL's reach among younger audiences in a rapidly evolving media landscape. NFL football is both a pillar of CBS Sports and huge differentiator for our streaming strategy, and our extensive partnership with the NFL will be fundamental to further driving growth and engagement on Paramount+ for years to come."
George Cheeks, President and Chief Executive Officer, CBS Entertainment Group
"CBS' NFL programming creates value for every one of our key constituents – our audience, advertisers, owned stations and affiliates, as well as our pay-tv distribution partners. It is must have content that stands above the crowd in a fragmented television universe. The NFL ON CBS has been a vital part of our broadcasting business for decades and it will be a powerful driver of our streaming success in the decade ahead. Our brands share a great history and a very exciting future together."
Sean McManus, Chairman, CBS Sports
"The NFL has been a cornerstone of CBS Sports programming for more than 60 years. We are extremely pleased to extend our long-standing partnership with the NFL for the next decade. The NFL is the most valuable content in all of media, and we are excited that the deal allows for more Sunday afternoon games than ever before and we retain the NFL's most-watched time slot. This wide-ranging deal includes significantly expanded rights, and we look forward to continued growth and to maximizing the enormous value of the NFL across all of our CBS Sports platforms."
Bob Chapek, Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company
"This landmark agreement guarantees that ESPN's passionate fan base will continue to have access to the best the NFL has to offer. Bringing all the considerable and unique capabilities of The Walt Disney Company and ESPN to the table opens up so many opportunities across our industry-leading direct-to-consumer, broadcast, cable, linear, social and digital outlets. Special thanks to Roger Goodell and the NFL owners for continuing to embrace new ways to appeal to their fans, especially through increasingly important platforms like ESPN+."
Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman, ESPN and Sports Content
"When ESPN and the NFL work best together, the results are transformational for sports fans and the industry. Some of the most remarkable collaborative examples have occurred in the past 12 months and have demonstrated the extraordinary range of The Walt Disney Company that is fundamental to this agreement. There are so many exciting new components, including Super Bowls and added playoff games, new end-of-season games with playoff implications, exclusive streaming games on ESPN+, scheduling flexibility and enhancements, and much more. It's a wide-ranging agreement unlike any we've reached with the NFL, and we couldn't be more energized about what the future holds."
Lachlan Murdoch, Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Fox Corporation
"Today we extend our 27-year partnership with the NFL and solidify the foundation of our marquee sports portfolio beyond the end of the decade. In addition to maintaining our leading Sunday afternoon NFC package, we are pleased to broaden our deal to include new digital rights that provide us with the flexibility to deliver NFL on FOX to customers in expanded and innovative ways. This long-term agreement ensures that we will continue to deliver the best in football coverage to our viewers while also strengthening and providing optionality to our business."
Pete Bevacqua, Chairman, NBC Sports Group
"We are excited to expand upon our relationship with the NFL, which is the most powerful content in sports and entertainment. Sunday Night Football has been television's most-watched primetime show for a decade, and we look forward to continuing our best-in-class presentation of SNF, Super Bowls, and playoff games for many years to come, while also broadening our audience with Peacock becoming the live streaming home for all NBC NFL games."
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