The NFL is edging nearer to acquiring an equity stake in ESPN which would see the league’s in-house media assets controlled by the US sports broadcaster.
According to the New York Post, the two entities are in “advanced talks” which would see ESPN take over the reigns of the NFL Network and other NFL Media services.
This potential deal would bring about an end to the NFL’s search for a buyer of its in-house media services, having enlisted Horizon Media Agency and IMG to guide the league in this aspect.
Talks to sell media properties, which also includes NFL.com, Red Zone, NFL Films and more, have proved to be difficult for the NFL, with talks reportedly breaking down between the league and several interested parties.
The New York Post further revealed that talks are so advanced that the NFL Players Association and owners of the franchises are being informed of the talks.
If the deal progresses throughout the year, the report outlines that nothing will become official until next year, with ESPN aiming for early 2025 to confirm.
ESPN has been exploring avenues that fall in line with its aim to go direct-to-consumer in the coming years, holding initial talks with the NBA and NHL – along with the NFL – last summer over equity in the company.
Disney – parent company of ESPN – has been making significant changes to its approach to sports broadcasting, laying off some of the more high-profile talent at the outlet in a bid to be cost effective.
Bob Iger, President of Disney, spoke on ESPN last summer: “Our position in sports is very unique and we want to stay in that business. We’re going to be open minded about looking for strategic partners that could either help us with distribution or content.
“I’m not going to get too detailed about it, but we’re bullish about sports as a media property.”