Shrewd? Prescient? Delusional? Tough to know, but top TV executives this week all seemed relatively confident — even off the record — when asked about the chances that NFL games would be played this fall.
The background, of course, is that NFL team owners and players are at odds over salary caps and other issues, raising the possibility of a lockout and the cancellation of some or all of the 2011 football season. Very bad news, if you’re a fan or a network executive.
As Yinka Adegoke and Liana Baker wrote in a piece this spring, “It is difficult to overstate the importance of the NFL to the revenue and profits of broadcasters like CBS Corp, Walt Disney’s ESPN, Comcast Corp’s NBC and News Corp’s Fox.”
Consider this: The broadcast and cable networks that share the NFL rights sell about $3 billion in advertising time for games each season. That’s $3 billion that’s up for grabs.