ESPN Is Reportedly Refusing To Pay NFL $3.8 Billion/Year The League Is Demanding During TV Rights Negotiations

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ESPN/Disney is apparently ready to play hardball with the NFL.

According to a report from Alex Sherman of CNBC, the league is looking for its broadcast partners to pay double what they paid in their last TV rights deal to broadcast games during negotiations.


NBC, CBS and Fox are likely to accept increases closer to 100% than Disney, which is currently paying much more than the three broadcast networks for its Monday Night Football package, said the people, who asked not to be named because the negotiations are private.

Disney agreed to pay $1.9 billion annually for Monday Night Football in 2011 — a deal that runs through 2021. That dwarfed the average $1.1 billion annual cost for Fox, $1 billion annual price tag for CBS and $960 million for NBC’s Sunday Night Football.

Despite the fact that the NFL wants its rights renewals completed by March 17, Disney is currently refusing to pay $3.8 billion per year the league is asking for which will include TV rights for Monday Night Football, highlights, and streaming rights.

Disney has already rejected paying anywhere close to $3.8 billion per year for its new deal, said two of the people. Disney CEO Bob Chapek alluded to pushing back on the NFL’s asking price during his company’s earnings conference call last week.

Disney’s Monday Night Football deal is for more than just the games. Disney also gets highlight rights for ESPN, branding rights for shows, and — importantly — streaming rights.

The league has asked Disney to pay the same type of increase as its other partners because Disney is asking for more from the NFL this time around — including double-header Monday Night games, where one game airs on ABC, the Disney-owned broadcast network, the people said. Disney also wants ABC to become part of the Super Bowl rotation with NBC, CBS and Fox. ABC was the home of Monday Night Football until 2005.

Sports business journalist Andrew Marchand believes that Disney will eventually be able to negotiate a lower price from the NFL.

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