National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell said the NFL’s new labor deal and television agreements give the U.S.’s most popular sports league momentum as it addresses everything from concussions to putting a team in Los Angeles to increasing the number of games on its television network.
“With our long-term labor agreement, television agreements and another outstanding season in the bank, we have a great deal of momentum,” Goodell told reporters today at his annual news conference in advance of the league’s Super Bowl title game. “We are proud of that, but we are not done yet. It is simply a foundation.”
Goodell said the NFL will expand the slate of live games offered on its television network to 13 from eight, with Thursday night telecasts starting in next season’s second week. The move means all 32 teams will play at least one game in primetime next season.
The NFL Network opened this season with the widest distribution since it started airing live games in 2006. It attracted a record average of 6.2 million viewers to its eight games this season, an audience about twice as large as in its inaugural season.
The network offers some of television’s most valuable content, as measured by fees cable or satellite companies pay for distribution rights, according to a report by Anthony DiClemente, an analyst with Barclays Capital Inc. The network gets about 73 cents a subscriber, making it the fourth-most expensive in the U.S., ahead of Fox News’ 70 cents and behind the Disney Channel’s 91 cents. ESPN gets the most, with $4.40 and TNT the second most at $1.03, DiClemente wrote, citing data from Barclays and SNL Kagan.
Los Angeles Prospects
Goodell also said the NFL hasn’t discussed expanding the number of franchises beyond 32 as a way to get a team in Los Angeles, where developers are working on two competing stadium plans. He said it was in the league’s best interest to keep teams in their existing markets.
The NFL will continue working to prevent concussions and make the game less dangerous for players, including expanding the use of television replay to help doctors, Goodell said.
“We will always make sure player health and safety is our No. 1 priority in the NFL,” Goodell said. “We’re going to make sure we understand all there is about brain injuries and brain disease and make sure we’re being responsible leaders.”