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#pounditFriday, June 14, 2024

Reporter shares update on negotiations between ESPN, NFL Network

Roger Goodell in Europe for an NFL game

Nov 10, 2022; Munich, Germany; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell reacts during an NFL Flag Football community event at the FC Bayern Campus. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Network has been making numerous cuts in recent months, and the changes may be the result of the NFL’s ongoing negotiations with ESPN.

Sports media reporter Andrew Marchand broke the story back in January that the NFL was in deep discussions about a deal that would result in the league taking an equity stake in ESPN. While talks were said to be in the early stages, they were serious enough that team owners and the NFLPA had been notified.

According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, the belief in NFL circles is that an agreement between ESPN and the NFL is “all but signed.” Florio reported on Friday that a deal could be finalized as soon as next week.

NFL Network laid off another prominent on-air personality this week. The network’s long-running program “Total Access” is also getting axed at the end of the month. If some sort of partnership between ESPN and the NFL is coming, it makes sense that the NFL is cleaning house with NFL Network.

The NFL has wanted to unload NFL Media for some time, as it has not been a financial success for the league. ESPN, meanwhile, would have the advantage of being closely tied to the most powerful sports league in America as it prepares to move to a direct-to-consumer model within the next two years. ESPN has an existing $2.6 billion rights deal with the NFL, which includes the “Monday Night Football” package.

Of course, there will be major questions about ESPN’s coverage of the NFL (and whether it will be truly objective) if the two sides enter into an agreement. It will also be interesting to see what happens to one of the NFL’s top reporters.

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