Provoking a strong response from the American Cable Association, the National Football League said it had reached television agreements with CBS, NBC, and FOX worth $27 billion combined over the nine-year term of the deals. Beginning with the 2013 season, the broadcast networks agreed to increase their annual NFL payments by a stunning 60%.
"Reports that CBS, NBC and Fox are expected to pay hyperinflationary fee increases to the NFL are a calamity for consumers and should be a clarion call to policymakers in Washington, D.C. The fact is that these outrageous sports rights fees will be thrust upon the nine out of 10 U.S. households that subscribe to cable and satellite services and are denied any opportunity to opt out of paying for the channels on which these NFL games will appear. When will the insanity on sports rights fees end?" ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said.
The NFL's new deal with CBS, NBC and Fox comes three months after ESPN said it signed a new eight-year deal with the NFL to keep Monday Night Football on the cable sports network through 2021. The agreement, which begins in 2014, is reportedly worth an average of $1.9 billion a year, or about $15.2 billion over the life of the contract. ESPN's current deal with the NFL is worth $1.1 billion per year.
ACA's concerns with the inflated cost of sports programming go back many years, with an emphasis on the inability of pay-TV subscribers to avoid paying for sporting events they never view. ACA is also concerned about the impact on monthly cable bills, and cite outdated government regulations as part of the problem.
"If CBS, NBC and FOX want to risk billions in their dealings with the NFL, that's their business. But broadcasters should not be able to rely on the government's broken retransmission consent and cable carriage rules as the means for them to recoup the cost of their corpulent NFL contracts," Polka said.
Polka encouraged political leaders to consider new solutions that will expand consumer choice in meaningful ways.
"Congress and the Federal Communications Commission need to throw a flag, because rules and regulations shouldn't force consumers to bear the burden of broadcasters' profligate spending, which will surely enrich NFL owners and players just as much as it will impoverish all pay-TV subscribers, particularly those who will never watch an NFL game," Polka said.