On August 29, the NFL settled a series of concussion-related lawsuits with 4,500 former players by agreeing to pay out $765 million over a 20-year period.
On October 24, John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal reported that the NFL is discussing creating a package of Thursday night games that it could sell to a cable network, starting in 2015 or 2016. According to sources, league officials believe that those games, which are currently shown on NFL Network, could fetch up to $700 million per year.
Does the closeness of these two reports seem just a bit curious to anyone else?
A few weeks ago, I wrote here that the NFL could pay for the entire concussion settlement with the yearly increases to its Monday Night Football contract with ESPN. Apparently, that’s not enough for Roger Goodell and company — not when the league can simply dip back into the cable TV waters and scoop out even more cash. Never mind that Thursday night games are dreadful to watch and not a good fit for the league. It’s still NFL football, and NFL football means big ratings, so the networks will pony up for it.
So the NFL wouldn’t even have to use that Monday Night Football money to cover the concussion settlement — not when it can sell a package eight barely watchable games to an eager cable network. In the end, it’s still pay TV subscribers who will get the privilege of footing the bill, whether they watch football or not. And the wheels keep turning…