NFL Inks $10 Billion Deal With CBS, Fox and DirecTV For 6 Year Renewal

NFL Inks more than $10,000,000,000 With CBS, Fox and DirecTV For 6 Year Renewal

Way before the 2004 season is even close to being over, the NFL has announced a blockbuster deal for their US television rights. CBS, Fox and DirecTV will be paying in excess of 10 billion dollars for the rights to televise NFL games. Fox and CBS will take 2 ultra-lucrative Super Bowls each.

This deal should make hockey fans wonder if Gary Bettman and the league owners are watching? On your clock you took the NHL game from its peak of popularity with Wayne taking the Kings to the cup in 1993 and the Rangers winning in 1994 to a 20% drop in scoring and a commission deal with NBC that is no more powerful that what Arena Football could negotiate. This is a 10 year slide. There were many chances to fix the game along the way but they have been wasted resulting in a lockout that looks more and more like it will last an entire year thus damaging the game and the business of the game in ways it might take an entire generation to cure.

And Bob Goodenow and the NHLPA players – are you checking your news? Notice that a salary cap league like the NFL has EVERY team prospering? Notice that players aren’t starving? Their kids are being fed while their Lamborghinis are fueled?

The issue is a salary cap isn’t worth arguing over. The owners own the damn teams thus there should be no negotiation on the topic other than WHERE the cap is set. 31 million is too low. If small market teams can’t pay that much then they need to find investors, field a less expensive team, sell the franchise or FOLD. Why Gary Bettman has got owners who can afford to fund a team in his economic environment is beyond me.

The players need to get their heads out of their asses and realize that if they don’t start talking CAP that there will be a much SMALLER pie to divide when the NHL comes back to play. By playing “wait and see” they are guaranteeing themselves to lose in their negotiation.

My quick solution:

– 40 million cap

– revised each year for the next 3 based on an independent, 3rd party audit of the NHL finances. Not by Arthur Levitt – maybe Coopers and Lybrand or someone like that. Both sides will agree to the auditor.

– Cap moves UP or DOWN based on the leagues financial health.

– NHL and NHLPA agree to make the ice surface bigger to increase scoring and reduce injuries.

– New league officials (especially at the top) who are willing to call obstruction holding calls EVEN in the 3rd period.

– Smaller goalie pads, no-touch icings and other rules changes to help scoring.

– New standards for arbitration.

– End to guaranteed contracts like in NFL

– Larry Bird Clause to protect a franchise player.

– Lower rookie contracts.

– earlier free agency for players.

– HDTV broadcast facilities for every team subsidized by the NHL’s war chest as a loan to the TV networks that broadcast the NHL.

Both sides get what they want. The league gets a cap that protects them from losing too much money. The players get a taste of the upside of the league as it might grow but take part of the costs if they lose more money. The game gets healthy and hopefully regains new fans.