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A Battle Appears to be Forthcoming in the Rights for NFL “Sunday Night Football”

A billion-dollar battle for “Sunday Night Football” is emerging between incumbent NBC and Disney/ABC/ESPN as the NFL moves toward agreements on its new TV deals that could be completed by the end of the year, Andrew Marchand of the New York Post has learned.

It has been known for a long time that Disney/ABC/ESPN would be very aggressive for more NFL, the most valuable programming in television. As far back as early 2019, there was buzz about ABC wanting a Super Bowl.

However, according to sources, it is more than that as the pitch Disney is making to the NFL is that it currently pays the most so it deserves the best prime-time regular-season schedule.

On top of that, according to officials familiar with the negotiations, Disney/ABC/ESPN wants to acquire two separate NFL packages.

At the moment, ESPN spends $2 billion per year for an inferior Monday Night schedule and no Super Bowls, while NBC writes a check for a mere $950 million for Sunday Night, which includes flexible scheduling that allows the NFL to shift better games into prime time, as well as a spot in the Super Bowl rotation.

NBC also has two playoff games per year compared to ESPN’s one. (NBC added another playoff game this year with the expanded format.) ABC currently has no regular package, but occasionally simulcasts ESPN’s productions.

ESPN’s extra cost does allow it to have almost wall-to-wall highlights on its network daily, which is something NBC, Fox and CBS don’t have. ESPN broadcasts the draft and the Pro Bowl.

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