The NFL is asking for a 100% increase in TV rights payments, but Disney is turning it down

New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard (87) catches a pass in front of strong Pittsburgh Steelers safety Terrell Edmunds (34) and linebacker Devin Bush (55) during the first half at MetLife Stadium.

Vincent Carchietta | USA TODAY Sports

The National Football League wants to charge its current network partners double what they have been paying to stream games, but Disney is backing off, citing the high price of Monday Night Football.

The NFL is in active discussions about renewal fees with its four existing network partners: Disney-owned NBC, CBS, Fox and ESPN, according to people familiar with the matter. The NFL expects to complete its major package renewals by March 17, before the start of the new NFL league year, CNBC reported earlier this month.

NBC, CBS and Fox are likely to accept increases close to 100% than Disney, which currently pays far more than the three broadcasters 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 annual cost of $ 1.1 billion for Fox, $ 1 billion annual price for CBS, and $ 960 million. for NBC’s Sunday Night Football.

Disney has already refused to pay about $ 3.8 billion a year for its new deal, two of the people said. Disney CEO Bob Chapek alluded to rejecting the NFL asking price during his company’s earnings conference call last week.

“We are looking at the long-term trends of the sports audience,” said Chapek on February 11. “We have had a long relationship with the NFL. If there is a deal that will increase shareholder value, we will certainly consider that and look at that. But our first filter will be to say if it makes sense for future shareholder value. “

NFL games have been the most watched programming on television for many years. The top five broadcasts of 2020 were all NFL games. But there has been a worrying decline among younger audiences, as evidenced by a decade-long decline in Super Bowl ratings among young people ages 18 to 49.

Disney bargain

Disney’s Monday Night Football deal is more than just the games. Disney also gets featured rights for ESPN, trademark rights for shows, and most importantly, broadcast rights.

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

Disney also wants flexibility in terms of broadcast rights, as the company considers selling ESPN as a direct-to-consumer product. The NFL plans to include broadcast rights as part of every network package, the people said.

Additionally, the NFL wants to add an 18th week of regular season play as early as next season. That’s a bonus game for Disney and all other streaming partners.

Spokesmen for the NFL and the networks declined to comment.

–CNBC’s Jabari Young contributed to this story.

Divulge: NBC is part of NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC.

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The NFL is asking for a 100% increase in TV rights payments, but Disney is turning it down