Everything You Need to Know About the Sports TV Deals in 2023
Updated · Mar 06, 2023
Got some time on your hands and decided to turn on the TV and watch your favorite team play live tonight?
You’re not alone, my friend. Just like you, 57.5 million people watched digital live sports content solely in the United States last year. And that number should be rising—90.7 million is the expectation for 2025.
Now, what is that doing for the industry?
Significantly growing sports TV deals that add to the tremendous revenue of the most popular teams. Broadcasters around the world pay them billions of dollars to acquire the right to televise sports games.
Ridiculous amounts of money in TV sports packages and millions of happy viewers.
Record-breaking Sports TV Rights Deals
- The NBA is now looking at a $75 billion deal in total from ESPN and Turner Sports.
- MLB and ESPN agreed to a domestic contract of 550 million a year until 2028.
- The Big Ten US Athletic conference should make $1 billion upon finalization of the college football deals in the US.
- NFL’s deals in sports media rights for 2023-2033 total over $110 billion.
- The English Premier League will receive approximately $12.9 billion from sponsorships and television rights.
- American ESPN is the biggest sports channel in the world.
- Sling TV is the most budget-friendly sports streaming service you would find.
Crazy Expensive TV Sports Contracts
The sports world never ceases to amaze.
On the surface level, we see thrilling games that keep us on our toes.
Who’s going to win?
Who will take the lead?
All questions that make sports a crazy exciting industry.
But do you know what is even crazier and more exciting?
The contracts happening behind the scenes. Sponsors, organizers, and broadcasters pour billions into a game so it can appear on national and international levels.
See how much sports teams generate from such deals.
1. The 2014-2022 NFL TV deal made the league $4.5 billion each year.
(Source: Pledge Sports)
CBS, ESPN, FOX, and NBC shared the rights to broadcast NFL games for the active seasons between 2014 and 2022. The total contract cost the networks $39.6 billion which came to $4.5 billion per year.
And if that’s not impressive enough, we should take note that this deal increased the league’s earnings by 51% from the previous contract. Prior to 2013, the four broadcasters paid $20.4 billion combined.
2. NFL is at it again, with the new deal promising a total of more than $110 billion.
(Source: The Washington Post)
The 2022 NFL TV contract couldn’t look better. The same four networks will broadcast the games, with Amazon joining the pact. CBS, FOX, and NBC signed up for 11 years of partnership with the NFL, and ESPN decided on 12 years.
Annual $2 billion payments should come from CBS, FOX, and NBC. ESPN will pay $2.7 billion each year, and Amazon agreed on $1 billion to stream the Thursday night games.
Interesting Fact: It was NBC’s turn to broadcast the playoff championship of the NFL, also known as the Super Bowl. Though networks don’t make individual payments for the championship broadcasting, a cool thing about the Super Bowl’s 2022 TV deals was the ads. Each 30-second ad slot made the network $6.5 million.
3. ESPN and Turner Sports currently pay the NBA $24 billion for the TV rights.
(Source: Pledge Sports)
The 9-year NBA TV contract with ESPN and Turner Sports grants the two networks the media rights over the Association’s games for the 2016-2025 period. Annually, the NBA receives $2.6 billion, with ESPN paying a slightly bigger chunk: it dedicates $1.4 billion, and Turner Sports does $1.2 billion.
4. The NBA is looking at a tripling expansion of the current deal.
The NBA Playoffs set a serious ground for negotiations. As viewership increased by 21% from 2021, the NBA saw the perfect opportunity to work out a better deal.
Tripling the current $24 billion contract, the Association is now seeking $75 billion from ESPN and Turner Sports in the upcoming new NBA TV deal.
5. FOX, Turner, and ESPN will be paying the MLB $1.75 billion annually until 2028.
(Source: Sports Pro Media)
ESPN will now receive the exclusive rights to only 30 of MLB’s games, decreasing from the previous 90. The network sees a reduction in payments: the agreement sets MLB’s revenue from ESPN at $550 million, down by $150 million. Money per game however goes up. Though ESPN will pay $150 million less, it also gains the rights to 60 games less.
On the other hand, MLB’s TV deal with FOX sees a 40% increase, with the network now paying $730 million. Turner Sports also renewed their existing contract proposing a 65% increase. Now the network will pay $470 million each year.
Soccer, soccer, soccer
Okay, but what about the world’s most popular sport?
That’s right, folks.
The Number 1 in sports popularity gains its fair share of payments in sports TV deals. Not only in the United States but all around the world, broadcasters reserve their rights to both national and international soccer games.
6. The English Premier League will receive $2.7 billion solely from NBC broadcasting rights.
(Source: USA Today)
Hop on a plane to Europe.
For the first time ever, broadcasters overseas will generate the League more money than domestic ones.
Most of the soccer TV rights will go to foreign networks, with a total $7.2 billion projection upon finalization of contracts. That is an over $2 billion increase from the previous $5.1 billion deals. NBC alone agreed to pay $2.7 billion which nearly reaches the value of US-based sports games.
5.1 billion pounds ($6.3 billion) will come from domestic English broadcasters.
7. US Soccer expects to receive anywhere from $25 to $27 million annually from sports TV rights payments.
(Source: Sports Pro Media)
Though not at the NBA-money tier, US Soccer doesn’t sell its rights for cheap either.
WarnerMedia-owned broadcaster Turner Sports and streaming service HBO Max will share the exclusive English-language rights to more than 20 both men’s and women’s teams' national games. The contract is 8 years long and should cost the broadcasters between $25 million and $27 million each year. In total, the combined payments for the USA’s soccer TV rights should come at anywhere between $200 million and $216 million.
How Much Does The Big 10 Make?
The oldest and biggest division of collegiate athletics in the United States consists of 10 universities and 14 teams.
Networks across the country televise their games, as sports fans can’t get enough of the professional popular teams.
Learn about Big 10’s TV revenue in this section.
8. The Big Ten US Athletic Conference should take home $1 billion as TV rights negotiations are wrapping up.
(Source: Sports Pro Media)
Thanks to Michigan’s run to the College Football Playoff, ratings in college football skyrocketed. Consequently, the college football broadcasting rights became more attractive, and FOX, NBC, CBS, and ESPN began to bid on who would take the most.
Currently, FOX and ESPN make the Association $440 million a year, but the contract ends with the 2023 season. As the rivals NBC and CBS are set to gain the media rights, people expect that ESPN will push even harder to retain them. This competition should make the Big Ten approximately $1 billion, with the focus remaining on college football TV rights.
9. FOX is the dominant network that represents the Big Ten.
(Source: S&P Global)
FOX enjoys 50% of the stakes in the conference’s Big Ten Network, making it the largest broadcaster and stakeholder of collegiate athletics. To retain its position and televise college football, FOX Sports will have to fight some rivals when the bids for new deals start.
Viewership of college football on FOX reached 22%, with Saturday’s college noon games attracting 15% more viewers compared to pre-pandemic years. The average TV audience now consists of 5.8 million people.
Which Are the Biggest Sports Networks?
You might’ve already got an idea who broadcasts the most sports.
According to the law of return, the bigger the investment, the bigger the profit. And as we saw with the extraordinarily expensive deals, these networks here are in for the big money.
Let’s break it down.
10. ESPN is the biggest sports channel worldwide.
ESPN is a big fish among the sports channels. Its annual revenue comes at $10.3 billion which is the most any sports television makes. Whether it be due to ESPN’s sports deals, or just its long history, the network is available to 86 million households. This means that approximately 93% of households in the US with paid television watch the channel. No surprise that ESPN broadcasts in 200 different countries.
11. UK’s Sky Sports is in the top 3 of the richest sports channels.
The most-watched sports channel in the UK takes third place in worldwide rankings in terms of revenue. Though not very close to ESPN, Sky’s $2.9 billion of annual revenue places it among the top 3 major sports networks.
12. Star Sports is the largest broadcaster in India.
Last but not least among the billion makers, Star Sports bags $1.2 billion in annual revenue, making the network the 7th richest in the world and first in India. It gained some of the media rights of the English Premier League and paid $2.55 billion in broadcasting rights fees for the Indian Premier League.
Here’s the complete Top 10:
- ESPN - $10.3 billion
- FOX - $3.78 billion
- Sky Sports - $3.78 billion
- TNT - $2.9 billion
- BT Sport - $1.4 billion
- NFL Network - $1.2 billion
- Star India - $1.2 billion
- Sony Pictures Network - $830 million
- Nine Entertainment Co. - $750 million
- SEC Network - $681.6 million
Where Should You Watch the TV Sports Games?
The most popular doesn’t always mean the best. Or does it?
There’s an endless arsenal of TV sports channels that come at different prices and offer different packages. Whether it is affordability or game coverage that matters the most to you, there’s something for everyone.
Honestly though, at the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide which one you’ll pick, but we’ll mention some of the best TV providers for sports for you to consider.
13. ESPN+ subscribers can watch the MLB, NHL, NBA, and NFL for $70 annually.
(Source: Business Insider)
Complementing the already existing ESPN content, the streaming service ESPN+ lets you watch exclusive on-demand videos and games, available thanks to the massive ESPN’s sports rights. Additionally, you can watch live the MLB, NHL, and MLS, and recorded games of the NBA and NFL. Though ESPN+ doesn’t grant you automatic access to ESPN content, it’s a cheaper alternative to the main channel. A monthly membership will cost you $7, and if you commit to a whole year, you’ll pay a total of $70 which is $14 down compared to month-to-month subscriptions.
14. Comcast rebrands and changes its name to Xfinity.
Before we move on, you should keep in mind that Comcast is now rebranding its cable services and changing their name to Xfinity. While the corporate name will remain Comcast, the selling products will be called Xfinity. So, if you hear someone referring to the Comcast sports package, chances are they mean Xfinity.
15. Xfinity is a top pick among TV providers.
The Xfinity sports package offers up to 22 sports channels with the Ultimate TV plan. You’d pay $60 a month in your first year, and if you decide to keep your package, then that price will go up by $28. The contract though only requires you to stay for one year unless you renew it. And let’s keep it real: a monthly $88 for 185 channels total and 22 sports ones is not bad.
Browsing their TV sports package, you’d come across nearly all strands of ESPN as well as the MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL Networks.
16. Tight on the budget? Sling TV got you.
Sling TV combines what the modern person needs: an online service that streams live. You only need a device connected to the internet to watch games live. While online streaming services are highly available, only a few offer watching live games, and Sling TV is one of them. It’s also among the cheapest TV sports packages—an online one that is—billing you $35 monthly for the cheapest plan.
17. Verizon might offer the most sports coverage out of all cable providers.
Verizon is massive and it is trying to include all major sports channels. It launched the FiOS TV sports package app which offers 24/7 coverage of the games which the most popular channels broadcast. Among them: ESPN, NBC, NBA TV, FOX Sports, CBS, and the Big Ten Network.
The cheapest plan starts at $70 per month and includes over 125 channels in total.
Sports are no joke, huh?
The TV sports industry is worth billions of dollars, and as we see broadcasters bidding higher and higher on sports TV deals, we should only see it growing.
Though there are some awesome cable television providers, it looks like turning on the TV is less in than it used to be. That’s why networks across the globe launch their own online streaming services where you can watch the most popular games live and get some exclusive backstage content.
What could be better for a sports enthusiast than having access to any game one click away?
So, we should only hope that broadcasters will continue pouring tremendous amounts of money and that we will get to see more of our favorite teams play.
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