ESPN reported to pay big to continue Monday Night Football


SportsBusiness Daily reports that ESPN is on the verge of a new deal with the NFL which will have the cable network paying nearly $2 billion per year. The renewal would keep MNF on ESPN into the early part of the next decade.

The exclusive report on SportsBusiness Daily (which tipped RBR-TVBR via email) says the contract nearing completion of negotiations would have ESPN paying a record fee of $1.8-1.9 billion per year. The extension would run nine or 10 years, taking the deal to either 2022 or 2023.

ESPN already pays the most of any of the NFL’s TV distributors – $1.1 billion annually under its current eight-year deal. By contrast, SportsBusiness Daily says Fox pays $720 million per year, CBS $620 million and NBC $603 million. The three extended their deals in 2009 through 2013. [LINK] Also, DirecTV pays about $1 billion per year for its exclusive Sunday Ticket satellite pay TV deal.

Despite paying the most, the report says ESPN will still not be in the rotation to carry the Super Bowl, either on the cable network or sister broadcast net ABC. Still to be worked out are some of the broadband and mobile rights to NFL content.

RBR-TVBR observation: You can’t argue with the value of primetime NFL games. “Sunday Night Football” on NBC is almost always the #1 television show during the NFL season and “Monday Night Football” is always the #1 show on cable. The big worry now is whether there will be a 2011 season, since a lockout by the owners is threatened if the teams can’t come to terms on a new contract with the players’ union.