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CBS plans to “do what is necessary” to keep its NFL rights

SiriusXM At Super Bowl LIII

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - JANUARY 31: Chairman of CBS Sports Sean McManus attends SiriusXM at Super Bowl LIII Radio Row on January 31, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM)

Getty Images for SiriusXM

The NFL’s Sunday afternoon and evening TV deals last until 2022. CBS already is talking about keeping its relationship with the league in place beyond that.

CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus said that the NFL “has been very good for CBS” during a Thursday earnings call, via the Wall Street Journal. The NFL contributed to a fourth-quarter CBS profit of $561 million; the year before, CBS lost $41 million during the October-December window.

McManus also said during the earnings call that CBS will “do what is necessary” to keep its relationship with the NFL beyond 2022.

The wild-card for the Sunday packages come 2022 could be ABC, which may try to get back in the game more than 15 years after seeing Monday Night Football shift to its sister network, ESPN. Looming over the entire broadcasting model are megatech companies like Amazon and Google, which could in theory grossly overpay for NFL rights.

Still, the NFL realizes the value of three-letter network broadcast TV, given that millions still rely on free, over-the-air signals that can be viewed without the benefit of cable, satellite, or Internet. That’s why games on NBC, CBS, and FOX continue to draw the biggest live crowds, and why that won’t be changing any time soon.

Sooner or later, the network contracts will be rebid and possibly reconfigured. At the end of the day, it’s hard to imagine the NFL not getting paid billions for what amounts to a maximum-audience infomercial on the networks that enjoy the broadest reach.