From USA Today:
The NFL's negotiations with ABC have not gone smoothly. The network has lost about $150 million a year on its current Monday Night Football deal, under which it pays an average of $550 million a year. That is why the network has kept its offer for a new contract in the $400 million-a-year range. The NFL is unlikely to accept an offer so far below the current rights fee.
The NFL has renewed three of its TV contracts, all for substantial increases and with fees totaling $11.5 billion. CBS increased its rights fee 25% to an average of $622.5 million a year for the Sunday afternoon AFC package; Fox raised its Sunday afternoon NFC deal 30% to $712.5 million a year. The NFL Sunday Ticket package with DirecTV, owned by Fox parent News Corp., soared 75% to $700 million a year.
So there is only one entity bidding for the rights to Monday Night Football and Sunday Night Football. None of the other networks wants to compete for the rights, so what is the NFL to do? It threatens to create a new network to not only air the games but to compete every day with ESPN. From the Columbia (Mo) Daily Tribune:
Commissioner Paul Tagliabue sent a veiled warning to ABC/ESPN yesterday that the league might get involved in creating a new sports TV network.
While the NFL already has extended agreements with Fox and CBS for its Sunday afternoon TV rights, negotiations on the prime-time packages with ABC and ESPN have stalled.
"We’re giving very serious consideration to being part of the launch of another major sports network on cable and satellite television," Tagliabue said during his annual state of the NFL address at the Super Bowl.
A league source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Fox is interested in the prime-time games for the new sports network, which would compete with ESPN. The league wants to add Thursday night and Saturday night games, although not for the entire season.
The NFL can't have games on many Saturday nights according to federal law because they would compete with college games. In any case, the NFL is unhappy with how negotiations are going, noone else is competing against the Disney folk, so they have made an attempt at creating competition.