Despite conflicting information from various news sources, reports surfaced Friday afternoon that Disney and the NFL reached a tentative agreement that renews ESPN’s deal broadcasting Monday Night Football and the Super Bowl returning to ABC.
John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal was the first to report the news. According to his report, ABC will return to the Super Bowl rotation for the first time since 2006. ABC’s last aired Super Bowl was “Super Bow XL”(SBXL) between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks. Worth noting, Super Bowl XL took place at Ford Field in Detroit. The Steelers defeated the Seahawks 21-10. Also, during that Super Bowl, Detroit-native Jerome Bettis, who then-played for the Steelers, announced his retirement after the game.
According to Ourand’s sources, “Disney is expected to pay an increase of up to 30% from its current deal, which based on an average of $2B per year would equate to around $2.6B”.
However, NFL Media VP/Communications Alex Reithmiller is refuting the report.
“The report is incorrect, and as we don’t negotiate through the media, there will be no further comment,” said Reithmiller.
ESPN already pays the highest rights fee in their current deal compared to FOX, NBC, and CBS. The increase in price puts Disney and its NFL package closer to its competitors. The NFL already wrapped up new terms with FOX, NBC, and CBS. Agreeing to terms with Disney was the last domino to fall regarding broadcast rights.
Under the latest deal, CBS and FOX will still have their Sunday football coverage. Perhaps the most significant change comes with Thursday Night Football (TNF). “TNF” will no longer air on FOX, as it is moving to Amazon Prime and the NFL Network.