NFL goes big on streaming’s future with new broadcast distribution deals

The National Football League (NFL) ended months of anticipation when it announced news broadcast and cable distribution deals that cover television rights to regular season, playoff, Super Bowl and post-season games over much of the next decade.

In a press release, the NFL announced it had renewed its existing agreements with Comcast (NBC), the Walt Disney Company (ESPN, ABC), Fox Corporation and ViacomCBS that will see those broadcasters continue to air football games for the foreseeable future. The agreement announced on Thursday will also bring two Super Bowl games back to Disney’s broadcast network ABC for the first time in nearly 30 years.

And, in a first for the NFL, the league forged an all-digital agreement with tech company Amazon that earned the retail giant the exclusive right to carry Thursday football games starting in 2023. The games will continue to be broadcast on over-the-air stations in the markets where each team plays in any given week, though broadcast partners were not announced as of Thursday.

“These new media deals will provide our fans even greater access to the games they love,” Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the NFL, said in a statement. “We’re proud to grow our partnerships with the most innovative media companies in the market. Along with our recently completed labor agreement with the NFLPA, these distribution agreements bring an unprecedented era of stability to the League and will permit us to continue to grow and improve our game.”

Here’s a breakdown of where football games will be played starting with the 2023-2024 season:

ABC

For the first time in nearly three decades, ABC has gained broadcast rights to the NFL’s biggest game of the year. The Super Bowl will air on ABC in 2026 and 2030 and may simulcast on ESPN and streaming service ESPN Plus as well. In addition to the Super Bowl, ABC gained broadcast rights to an unspecified number of regular-season games (possibly games that will stream on Amazon Prime on Thursdays, since the NFL requires those games to be broadcast in the television markets of both teams playing in a given week, though that information wasn’t confirmed by the NFL as of Thursday).

AMAZON

Amazon Prime Video will be the exclusive national distributor of Thursday Night Football starting in 2023. Amazon Prime members and those who subscribe to Amazon Prime Video will have free access to the games each week. Games will also be broadcast over-the-air in each team’s television market during any given week.

CBS and Paramount Plus

The NFL’s longest broadcast partner renewed its distribution agreement with the added perk of being able to make football games available through its website, CBS.com, and on its newest streaming service Paramount Plus. CBS will air and Paramount Plus will stream all American Football Conference (AFC) games on Sunday afternoons. CBS and Paramount Plus will also carry the Super Bowl championship game in 2023, 2027 and 2031. (Paramount Plus free trial link)

ESPN

ESPN will remain the exclusive home of Monday Night Football. ESPN also has the rights to simulcast the Super Bowl or provided extended coverage in the two years in which ABC has the broadcast rights to the championship game (2026 and 2030).

ESPN Plus

The streaming service will be the exclusive home of one International Series game per year. ESPN Plus also has the right to stream all games carried by ABC and ESPN through the 2033 footbal season.

Fox

Fox will continue to air National Football Conference (NFC) games on its broadcast networks on Sunday afternoons. Simulcasts will be available on the Fox Now app. In addition to regular season games, Fox will air and streaming the Super Bowl in 2024, 2028 and 2032.

NBC

The Comcast-owned broadcast network will continue to air Sunday Night Football through the 2032 football season. In addition to telecasts on NBC, a select number of Sunday night broadcasts will also be made available on Peacock, Comcast’s streaming TV service. NBC will also carry the Super Bowl in 2025, 2029 and 2033.

NFL Network

The NFL’s own cable and satellite television channel will air some exclusive football games on a yearly basis, though the league didn’t say how many games.

Peacock

Comcast’s streaming TV service will carry a handful of Sunday Night Football games as part of a simulcast with broadcast network NBC. The exact number of games that will be carried on Peacock was not released.

Tubi TV

Fox’s free, ad-supported streaming service will offer some NFL programming, but the league stopped short of saying Tubi would offer actual games.

Other channels and platforms

The NFL said its agreement with its long-time programmers provides a certain degree of flexibility when it comes to offering alternate telecasts on networks and streaming services that share common ownership with a broadcast network. The NFL specifically pointed to ViacomCBS’s simulcast of a playoff game on Nickelodeon and a “mega cast” aired on ESPN as examples of what might come in the future.

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