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NFL Takes Care of ESPN in New Television Deal: TRAINA THOUGHTS

1. One of the most popular bits from Eddie Murphy’s iconic stand-up show, Raw, is about how divorce really means “half.”

As Murphy shares his thoughts on marriages breaking up, he says “half” over and over throughout the bit.

The sports fan's version of half now is “pay.” With streaming taking over the world and games still remaining on broadcast and cable television, sports fans have to pay. You still need CBS, Fox, NBC and ABC if you’re a sports fan. Pay! You still need ESPN and FS1 if you’re a sports fan. Pay! And now you need Amazon Prime, ESPN+, Paramount+, Peacock and more if you’re a sports fan. Pay!

On Thursday, the NFL finally announced its new TV deals, which will kick off with the 2023 season and net the league $10 billion. In the new deal, for the most part, things will remain the same. CBS will keep the AFC package. Fox will keep the NFC package. NBC will keep the Sunday Night Football package and ESPN/ABC will keep the Monday Night Football package.

The biggest change is Amazon Prime will be the exclusive home of Thursday Night Football. It was expected NFL Network would get a portion of the Thursday night games, but that didn’t happen. You will only have one place where you can watch TNF: Amazon Prime.

It’s hard to complain when the bulk of NFL games will remain on broadcast television through 2033. But if you’re a die-hard football fan who likes to watch every game, the NFL is now putting enough on streaming that you have to fork over extra money.

In addition to needing Amazon Prime if you’d like to watch TNF, the NFL is giving one London game per season exclusively to ESPN+.

The menu for the big-time NFL fan now looks like this: Pay for Sunday Ticket. Pay for some sort of television/cable package so you still get the broadcast networks. Pay for Amazon Prime so you can watch Thursday Night Football. Pay for ESPN+ so you can watch one Sunday morning London game each year.

And this doesn’t even cover the other pay subscriptions you need if you like sports that aren’t football.

Besides shipping Thursday Night Football to Amazon, the most significant aspect of the new TV deals was the NFL taking care of ESPN. For years, the Worldwide Leader had paid the most in rights fees in exchange for just a mediocre Monday Night Football game (and unlimited use of highlights on its studio shows), but that doesn’t make up for the troubles they’ve had with Monday Night Football.

In the new deal, though, ESPN gets some major perks, including flex scheduling for Monday Night Football beginning in Week 12 each season, a Saturday doubleheader in the season’s final week and, in their words, “enhanced schedule quality.”

Those are significant improvements, especially the flex late in the season.

Many of you reading this are asking yourselves one question at this point: What about Sunday Ticket? This is the question I get asked the most when it comes to sports media. NFL fans want DirecTV’s stranglehold on Sunday Ticket to end.

Unfortunately, it’s not ending yet. DirecTV will keep its exclusive Sunday Ticket rights for the 2021 season, but ESPN is lurking.

2. I taped this week's Sports Illustrated Media Podcast with Sports Business Journal's Austin Karp a few hours before the NFL deals were officially announced. We covered the deals and what could happen with Sunday Ticket. We also talked about college basketball's ratings problem going into the NCAA Tournament, the new NHL/ESPN deal and the ups and downs of broadcast television.

You can listen to the podcast below or download it on Apple, Spotify and Stitcher.

3. Lost amid the NFL TV deals on Thursday was this eyebrow-raising quote from Roger Goodell.

If you read Traina Thoughts, you know I've been pushing for broadcasters to mention point spreads and over/unders during games. Of course, Al Michaels has been doing this for ages, but in the most sly way possible. I reached out to Al to ask for his thoughts on Goodell's quote.

“The Rascal is proud to have been at the forefront of the movement. It’s a new dawn he saw coming for a long time. In fact, he would have bet on it.”

4. Yankees fans are hoping this is the worst thing that happens to Giancarlo Stanton this season.


5. Hell of a quote by new Washington quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

6. Every year on the first day of the NCAA Tournament, I post this. Enjoy.

7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: Charlie Murphy clearly wasn't lying on Chappelle's Show.

Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on AppleSpotify or Stitcher. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter and Instagram.