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Why Keeping NFL Rights Looks Like Do or Die for CBS

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CBS discussing contract renewal

CBS (CBS) will do all that is necessary to retain the broadcast rights to NFL games, the company’s head of sports, Sean McManus, said during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings conference call.

CBS has four years remaining on its existing NFL contract, meaning the company has the rights to broadcast NFL games through the 2022 season. With several years remaining on its existing contract, however, CBS is already discussing contract renewals with the NFL.

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Strong appetite for sports content

There are good reasons CBS would not want to wait until the last minute to negotiate a contract renewal with the NFL. For one, the NFL has continued to draw a huge TV audience despite the decline in TV viewership due to cord cutting. Many digital media companies are also showing strong appetites for sports programming that could help them pull more subscribers to their platforms. 

Verizon (VZ), Amazon (AMZN), and Twitter (TWTR) are some of the companies with digital distribution rights to some NFL content. Therefore, CBS understands that the race for NFL rights will be tight in the future. Last year, Verizon acquired the rights to show NFL games across its portfolio of digital platforms. Last year, Amazon renewed its contract for the digital distribution of NFL’s Thursday night matches.

Since Netflix (NFLX) doesn’t offer sports programming, its rivals are leveraging sports to try to eat into its market share.

Revenue jumped 2.6% at CBS

CBS generated $4.0 billion in revenue in the fourth quarter, representing an increase of 2.6% year-over-year.

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