UPDATE, 9:10 AM: There will be “no NFL surcharge” on cable and satellite companies as a result of the Monday Night Football renewal deal, ESPN chief George Bodenheimer said in a conference call today. But he didn’t rule out the possibility that ESPN will cite the NFL agreement to seek higher payments for its channels when the company renews its contracts with cable and satellite companies. “The fee that we ask of our affiliates is based on the overall value of the ESPN service,” he said, adding that “this agreement enhances our value to our affiliates.” Bodenheimer hasn’t spoken to operators yet about the new terms but wishfully predicts that “this will be received very well by our distributors.” Research firm SNL Kagan says that pay TV companies typically pay $4.34 per month for every subscriber who receives ESPN and ESPN HD, $2.55 for ESPN 3D, and 58 cents for ESPN 2.
Credit Suisse analyst Spencer Wang says that the new deal will increase ESPN’s football-related programming costs by about 6% a year — a slower pace than the previous contract. But the company’s pay TV deals grow about 4% a year.
Meanwhile, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says that he’s open to bringing playoff games to ESPN. But he adds that contracts with other broadcasters run through 2013, and he’s now negotiating renewal terms.
PREVIOUS, 6:53 AM: The new agreement will cost ESPN 73% more than its previous NFL deal, The New York Times says. That likely means the Disney-owned sports channel will ask cable and satellite companies to pay more — which could lead to some big fights: ESPN is already the most expensive basic cable service, and operators resent the roughly $4 per subscriber per month they have to shell out for what’s considered must-have programming. ESPN’s new NFL deal includes additional football-related shows and updates including streaming to Verizon phones. Some terms kick off immediately: Today, ESPN’s NFL Live expands to an hour from a half hour. A discussion show based on fan-submitted questions, Audibles, also joins the Thursday night lineup. This weekend, Sunday NFL Countdown will run three hours, up from two. On Tuesday, ESPN2 will introduce a weekly, hour-long show NFL 32, followed on Friday by another weekly hour-long show NFL Kickoff. Here’s the official release:
Monday Night Football, the most successful series in sports media history, will remain on ESPN through the 2021 NFL season under a new eight-year agreement between ESPN and the National Football League, it was announced today by ESPN and ABC SportsPresident George Bodenheimer and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The broad multiplatform agreement, which begins in 2014, includes eight full seasons of MNF telecasts, expanded NFL studio programming (beginning this week), highlight rights for TV andESPN.com, the Pro Bowl, the NFL Draft, 3D rights, and enhanced international rights.
The extensive package of NFL rights will fuel the continued growth of ESPN year-round, boosting its core television business while at the same time supporting the company’s “best available screen” strategy with NFL programs on TV, online and on mobiledevices via authentication and digital rights. Outside the U.S., ESPN will televise MNF and other regular season games, playoffs, and the Super Bowl in 30 million households in 144 countries and territories across five continents, including Brazil, the Caribbean, Africa, Middle East, Israel, Australia-New Zealand, and Continental Europe. The agreement also provides the NFL with an option to air a postseason Wild Card playoff game on ESPN should the NFL decide to do so.
An iconic series in the history of American television, Monday Night Football debuted in 1970. After a 36-year run on ABC, the series moved to ESPN in 2006 as part of a landmark eight-year agreement. During the past five seasons, ESPN’s MNF has become the most-watched series in cable television history, registering eight of cable’s 10 all-time biggest household audiences and 16 of the top 20 (excluding breaking news). In 2010, MNF ranked eighth among all primetime programs (broadcast orcable), averaging 10.5 million homes (14.7 million viewers), an unprecedented achievement for a cable television property. In addition, an estimated 140 million people viewed MNF and NFL studio programming on ESPN/ESPN2 over the course of the 2010 NFL season
Said Bodenheimer: “Today, we’ve secured cable’s most valuable television franchise, along with an enhanced international package of year-round multimedia rights. It will help grow our business well into the next decade. No one has the breadth of worldwide media assets or the ability to monetize a property the way ESPN can, particularly with Monday Night Football and our complete NFL coverage.”
“We are proud to extend our three-decade partnership with ESPN,” said Commissioner Goodell. “We have come a long way together since ESPN first televised the NFL Draft in 1980. With this new agreement we are excited about the opportunity to take the NFL-ESPNpartnership to innovative new heights in serving the most passionate fans in sports.”
ESPN’s significantly-enhanced NFL rights package for the extension will include:
Telecast rights to 17 Monday Night Football games per season for eight additional seasons (2014-2021).
Rights to more than 500 new hours of NFL-branded studio programming per year, starting this week.
Popular programs such as ESPN’s Emmy Award-winning Sunday NFL Countdown pre-game show (expands to three hours), NFL Live (expands to one houryear-round), Monday Night Countdown, NFL PrimeTime, and NFL Matchup will continue, and ESPN will create more NFL-branded studio programming, including NFL 32 and NFL Kickoff, both debuting this week. More on these programs;
Expanded highlight rights across ESPN’s television and ESPN.com;
NFL Draft, which ESPN has covered since 1980;
3D distribution rights;
Rights to simulcast network coverage of ESPN’s MNF and NFL studio programs on tablet devices through ESPN’s WatchESPN App;
Continued Spanish-language rights to MNF on ESPN Deportes;
International rights, including distribution of MNF on ESPN International networks in select markets in Brazil, the Caribbean, Africa, Middle East, Israel, Europe and Australia-New Zealand through 2021; regular season, playoffs and Super Bowl inselect markets, totaling 30 million households in 144 countries and territories across five continents; and the ability to utilize NFL programming on all platforms as part of a linear stream of ESPN network programming.
The long-term agreement also ensures that Monday Night Football will celebrate its 50th anniversary season on ESPN in 2020.
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