In case anyone thought the pandemic, the collapse of the TV delivery system, the rise of social media or any other bugaboo could ever dethrone the NFL, go ahead and think again.
According to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, the NFL's next round of TV rights could lock in more than $100 billion of income for the league over the next 10 years.
The deals could be in place by early 2021.
One hundred billion dollars divided by 10 divided by 32 is $312.5 million. Without accounting for the league office's cut, that's $312.5 million per team, per year, before selling a single ticket, a single sponsorship, a single $75 parking space or a single $12 Bud Light.
The kicker here is that this rise in income is expected to come without a major disruption for viewers. Amazon is expected to win the Thursday Night package, ABC could join the Super Bowl rotation and Sunday Ticket could leave DirecTV for a streaming package -- think ESPN+ or NBC's Peacock -- but for the most part things will remain the same for the average viewer. Fox will keep the NFC package; CBS will keep the AFC; NBC will have the Sunday night games and ESPN/ABC the Monday night games.
This means the NFL could soon be a 12-figure TV property without Jeff Bezos (Amazon Prime) or Tim Cook (Apple TV) driving up the price just because they can. The usual suspects are forking over that much cash because that's how much they think the NFL is worth. A collective $10 billion per year would represent roughly a 20 percent raise from the network's current commitments.
And while it's true that NFL TV ratings are down, they're down less than overall TV viewership. The Big Four networks are losing viewers to Netflix and Amazon Prime, to TikTok and YouTube, and as a result NFL games are often the only time the average viewer actually sits through a commercial break on a major TV network.
What does this mean for college football? Will the networks be happy to spend on the relative bargain that is college football in order to keep eyeballs on their networks every fall weekend, or are they throwing all their money after Sundays?
I'd be lying if I had an answer, but the recent SEC news could be a clue. CBS gave up the SEC package -- the biggest bargain in sports TV, $55 million per year for the most-watched college football package -- while Disney happily gave the SEC a rage in order to put the league's best games on ABC.