NFL Will Capitalize If College Football Goes Down, Fill Revenue Shortfall
The NFL is projected to lose a substantial amount of revenue without fans attending games this year, but if college football goes down as expected, the NFL can eliminate some of the financial shortfall by taking over Saturdays, creating another day of nationally televised games.
Reportedly, the Big Ten and PAC-12 are set to be the first Power 5 conferences to announce they will not play college football this fall, but the Big XII won't be far behind. The SEC is trying to delay in order to get a season in, but issues over liability may be what ultimately kills a college football season this year.
The NFL will not waste an opportunity to expand their slate into Saturdays. They already do it at the end of the season and the first two rounds of the playoffs when college football is off the schedule. They will not hesitate to come up with a slate of Saturday games to maximize exposure, create more featured matchups, which will jack up broadcast value and advertising revenue.
The players union will be all for it, because if the NFL generates more revenue through broadcasting rights, they will get a substantial portion. Currently, the NFL is projected to lose revenue which would drop the salary cap per the collective bargaining agreement. It's possible the two sides will come to some resolution to avoid having the cap drop, but it's far more palatable for the two sides to find additional sources of revenue.
Three nationally spotlighted games on Saturday would be a huge boon to the NFL. It would reduce the glut of games played on Sundays at 1pm EST. This would create a massive opportunity to market teams and players that might get lost in the shuffle at times.
The NFL has expanded into Mondays and Thursdays. Giving them an opportunity to take over Saturday, even if it's only a year, is a layup. And this would only provide the owners and players union more incentive to play this year, because this would make them more money, which is the driving force for why both sides are so intent on playing, despite the pandemic.
It's unlikely it would entirely replace the money NFL teams would get from fans being in the stands, but the sheer amount of broadcasting rights the NFL has at their disposal allows them to make a huge amount of money. Beyond domestic television, the internet and streaming rights have expanded. International markets are getting involved, increasingly wanting to be able to broadcast games. Saturday represents a way to jack up those rates and broadcasters will still pay it because the appetite for the NFL seems unending and it will be the only game in town when it comes to football.