Despite selling off much of its entertainment business to Walt Disney, 21st Century Fox’s Fox Broadcasting appears to still be viable.
A recent five-year deal for television rights to Thursday Night National Football League games seems to indicate that the network is going to be aggressively seeking the content that fits with its new direction.
Coping with Declining Television Ratings
Television ratings overall are declining, as more people cut the cord to cut the costs of cable out of their budget. Rupert Murdoch, 21st Century Fox Executive Chairman, however, appears to be ready to bet his empire on live sports and news once the Disney deal is complete. Even though NFL Thursday Night Football’s television ratings have been slipping, a deal rumored to be worth $3.3 billion is in the works between Fox and the NFL.
That works out to around $660 million on average per season, according to the Wall Street Journal. It’s a 47 percent increase from the total $450 million that co-rights holders NBC and CBS paid during the most recent season. Experts predict this move will cost Fox about $360 million a year, estimating that CBS and NBC likely lost around $200 million total.
Fox and the NFL
For now, at least, NBC still maintains the rights to Sunday Night Football, primetime’s number one program for the last seven consecutive years, but Fox may ultimately have those rights in its sights, too. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell called the initial move to Fox “the best opportunity for the NFL to grow the Thursday Night package.”
It also makes sense for Fox, which has struggled to gain any real traction in primetime for the last several years. Thursday Night Football will give it a platform to showcase other programming, hopefully attracting new viewers who will stick around. Despite a 12 percent drop in ratings last season, Thursday Night Football still attracts 12 million viewers on average.
The Thursday Night Football package also comes with an agreement to allow a streaming service simultaneous rights to live broadcast. Those details weren’t finalized at the writing of this article, but will be announced soon. Amazon Video held those sports streaming rights for the 2017-2018 season, using it as a perk for Prime members.