If you are an NFL fan in the UK then until the past few weeks you have been looking forward to the new season with very few flies in the ointments. However slowly it has dawned on people that there was no TV deal in place in the UK and in fact NFL coverage could all but dry up but happily with the opening game less than 36 hours away those worries have been erased with the announcement today that Sky Sports will once again be showing comprehensive coverage of the sport in the UK.
Now other coverage had slowly been drip-fed out over the past couple of weeks as NFLUK confirmed that Channel 4 would once again be showing NBC Sunday Night Football with Nat Coombs replacing Danny Kelly alongside everyone’s favourite pundit Mike Carlson. The Sunday Night game is often the best game of the week and will be shown in HD and be available on 4oD for the first time this season.
The BBC also renewed their rights. They will show the Superbowl live and have highlights of the International Series game as well as playoffs which will be available on BBC Sport online. They also have radio rights for the forthcoming season.
However most people were worried that the big rights had still not been given out. Were Sky playing hardball? Did the NFL want to ditch Sky and get everyone to buy Gamepass? Was the size of the Thanksgiving Turkey to blame for the delay? Was Cecil Martin too cool for Sky Sports? You should read the NFL on TV thread on NFLUK if you want to see NFL fans in meltdown. Many thought no deal would ever be done. Some thought Premier Sports would be involved. Some even wanted no deal so there would be no blackouts on Gamepass.
The fact is though once the NFL announced that the Jacksonville Jaguars were to play for four years at Wembley Stadium then that assured us that the NFL were extremely keen on the UK market and that they would be broadcasting their league in the UK – and not just one game a week. The NFL genuinely has interest in placing a franchise in London so they know they have to grow the game. Taking it away from Sky and lumping it on Premier Sports or Gamepass only was never an option. ITV4 was the only other options for the NFL and that didn’t come about once they made it clear that Sky were their preferred broadcast partners a deal was imminent. All that needed to be sorted was NFL programming and red button options.
In a surprise move the BBC were given rights to Monday Night Football but will only be broadcasting it behind the red button and on the BBC website. Not like the BBC has much else to broadcast at 1AM on Tuesday morning’s but ho hum.
So there we have it. The full statement that had been embargoed until 5PM this afternoon is behind this link but here is a run-down of all the NFL TV rights in the UK:
Two live Sunday Games – 6PM and 9:15 PM
The Red Zone on the Red Button
Thanksgiving and all TNF Games
All Playoffs and Superbowl
NFL Total Access plus more NFL programming tbc.
Superbowl – Live
Monday Night Football – Live (Red Button/Online only)
Playoffs – Highlights
International Series – Highlights
Sunday Night Football – Live
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