ABC may be getting back into the NFL business.
Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reported: "ABC is kicking around the idea of going hard after CBS' or Fox's NFL Sunday packages. Besides the games on Sundays, it also would allow ABC to pick up a Super Bowl or two."
Marchand added: "This is somewhat speculation at this point, informed by sources familiar with Disney's discussions. ESPN and ABC—both owned by Disney—declined comment."
Per that report, the NFL's agreements with Fox and CBS for Sunday's daytime games last through the 2022 season, as do Fox's deal for Thursday Night Football and NBC's deal for Sunday Night Football.
ESPN has the rights to Monday Night Football through the 2021 season. ABC last had NFL rights from 1970 to 2005, when it broadcast Monday Night Football. The Pro Bowl was also simulcast on ESPN and ABC starting last season.
If ABC does get involved in the negotiations, it could be another leverage point for the NFL to increase its licensing fees.
For perspective, Fox reportedly paid $3 billion for five years of TNF rights last year and is currently paying $1.1 billion a year for its Sunday NFL programming. CBS is on the hook for around $1 billion a year for its Sunday package, while NBC is paying $950 million a year for SNF. And ESPN is paying a whopping $1.9 billion a year for its NFL rights, centered on MNF.
Those prices are likely to rise, though Disney may be willing to play ball nonetheless. As Marchand noted: "Disney could try to prop up ABC by using Sunday football to lure more male viewers, which it currently lacks. It also has been proven for years that the NFL is either the top reason, or one of them, for an overall broadcast network's success."