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Disney vs Amazon In US Sports Rights Battle

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isney have reportedly agreed an outline of a USD$2.6 billion (AUD$3.35 billion) a year broadcast rights deal for NFL’s Monday Night Football (MNF), according to Sports Business Journal (SBJ).

This would see Disney-owned ESPN retain the domestic rights to MNF, where they currently pay USD$1.9 billion (AUD$2.45 billion) annually.

This annual fee would also be the most any broadcaster has ever paid to televise the NFL’s games.

There still has not been a confirmation of the deal, with ESPN’s executive vice president, Burke Magnus, denying that the contract has been signed.

“It’s not done, we’re not there,” Magnus said.

“The process has been going on for some time, that’s no secret.

“People have made comments about it, we’ve made comments about it in terms of its significance to our business and what a priority it is for us.

“We’re not done until you see that press release, which is coming at some point I hope,” he said.

Disney’s current deal with the NFL expires at the end of 2021, with the two companies to smooth out details of the new deal.

According to SBJ, ESPN will retain its coveted highlights rights.

Other major US broadcasters including CBS, Fox, and NBC have already reached broad agreements with the NFL to broadcast games, paying approximately USD$2 billion (AUD$2.58 billion) a year.

Disney now goes head-to-head with Amazon, as they aim to expand their online streaming services.

Their respective platforms, Disney+ and Amazon Prime have been global successes, and now live sport is being added to their existing catalogue of content.

In the NFL, ESPN currently broadcasts Monday Night Football, along with the Pro Bowl and a wild card game.

Amazon currently simulcast Thursday Night Football games, with their 2020-22 renewal adding one game per season to the deal.

ESPN dominate in live broadcasts when it comes to MLB, hosting Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday nights games, along with one Wild Card Game.

MLB.tv, however, is available for purchase through Amazon Prime, enabling fans to stream every game live and on-demand.

It is a similar story in the NBA, with ESPN broadcasting 82 regular-season games on top of 30 playoff games.

Amazon’s Prime Video Channels do alternatively offer access to NBA League Pass, which gives viewers access to games not broadcast on national television.

Despite Amazon’s current focus on simulcast and on-demand content, a report from Protocol in July 2020 suggests they are aiming for 24/7 live sports programming, to bring them in direct competition with Disney’s ESPN.