CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves predicts that the network might find itself bidding against deep-pocketed tech giants for NFL rights when its contract with the league ends in five years.
Google’s YouTube, Amazon and other tech players making major investments in entertainment programming were absent from the bargaining table when 21st Century Fox outbid CBS for rights to Thursday Night Football. But Moonves predicts that day is coming when they look to secure rights to stream professional football games.
“Obviously the tech players are going to be part of it,” Moonves said in remarks today at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in San Francisco.
Moonves said the NFL still believes in the power of broadcast television — indeed, the Super Bowl never has aired on a cable network (which would limit the potential audience to subscribers). But he predicts the NFL will look for dual revenue streams in the future, which implies selling streaming rights to NFL games.
The CBS executive revisited his reason for bowing out of the Thursday night NFL sweepstakes, saying the package simply got too expensive. He said the network instead will rely on its popular Thursday night comedy lineup of The Big Bang Theory and the freshman spinoff series Young Sheldon, even as it reinvests the savings in new programming.
Fox, with its successful bid for Thursday Night Football, appears to be orienting its broadcast network around sports, news and reality shows — with less of an emphasis on scripted programming, Moonves said.
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