CBS expects to keep NFL as deal comes up for renewal
CBS, the US national television network, will “do what is necessary” to retain coveted broadcasting rights to the NFL when its existing deal expires in 2022, according to senior executive Sean McManus.
Speaking on an earnings call with analysts yesterday, McManus (pictured), the chairman of CBS Sports, said that live sports remained important for attracting large television audiences and advertising dollars.
While it was the lowest Super Bowl audience for 11 years, CBS still pulled in 98.2 million viewers for this month’s low-scoring showpiece between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams, and the network is eager to extend its deal with the NFL focused on Sunday afternoon regular season games.
That long-term deal is worth just over $1 billion per year, and CBS also has rights to live-stream games via its CBS All Access OTT service, again until the end of the 2022 season.
McManus said on Thursday: “We fully expect to keep the NFL on CBS for many years to come. As we prepare to renew our rights, it’s important to remember the absolute power of CBS and our full portfolio of broadcast and streaming assets. While the NFL has been very good for CBS, CBS has indeed been very good for the NFL.”
However, he does not expect negotiations with the league to begin in earnest until next year.
McManus said: “I think the NFL probably wants to get their collective bargaining agreement done first before the talk about the television deals.”
The current CBA with the NFL Players Association is due to expire in 2021.
CBS presently shares coverage of the NFL with other national networks Fox and NBC and US cable sports broadcaster ESPN, and all are expected to seek to retain rights as their current multi-billion-dollar deals run down.
However, they could face competition from ABC, the Disney-owned sister network of ESPN, which is considering a big push for the Sunday afternoon TV packages presently held by CBS and Fox, according to US reports.
ABC has not shown the NFL since 2005 when it had the Monday Night Football package now held by ESPN.
CBS yesterday posted a profit of $561 million for the fourth quarter of 2018, compared with a loss of $41 million in the same period a year earlier.