ITV, the commercial broadcaster, will be the NFL’s new free-to-air home in the UK after announcing a three-year deal with the top American football league today (August 17).
Through the agreement, the broadcaster will show selected live games and highlights in the upcoming 2022 campaign, as well as the 2023 and 2024 seasons.
ITV replaces public service broadcaster the BBC as the NFL’s free-to-air television partner in the UK.
Its coverage will begin on September 9 with the first in a series of hour-long weekly shows, airing at 11:30PM on the main ITV channel.
The 2022 NFL season kicks off on September 8 when defending champions the Los Angeles Rams take on the Buffalo Bills.
ITV will provide live coverage of the NFL’s showpiece Super Bowl LVII, live from Glendale, Arizona, on February 12, as well as two of the season’s three London games.
The commercial network will air the New York Giants’ game against the Green Bay Packers at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on October 9, as well as the Jacksonville Jaguars’ matchup against the Denver Broncos at Wembley Stadium on October 30.
The NFL will stage three games in London this season, with the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints facing off on October 2 in Tottenham.
NFL programming will also be aired on commercial broadcasters STV in Scotland and Virgin Media in Ireland, while content will be available on demand on the ITV Hub, ITV Hub+, STV Player, and VM Player streaming platforms.
The BBC had been the NFL’s free-to-air home in the UK since 2015. It also previously had a seven-year association with the league that initially ended after the 2012-13 season.
Commercial broadcaster Channel 4 had picked up live rights to the games in London and the Super Bowl, as well a weekly highlights program, for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 campaigns.
Pay-TV giant Sky remains the dominant broadcaster of the NFL in the UK, offering multiple live games each week plus the playoffs and Super Bowl in a five-year deal that runs until the end of the 2024-25 season.
The new partnership marks the NFL’s return to ITV for the first time since the network aired the last of its three consecutive Super Bowls in 2007.
Niall Sloane, ITV director of sport, said: “This deal will bring to ITV viewers the very best of the NFL each week in our highlights shows throughout the season as well as key live games. We’re delighted to be able to offer viewers, free to air, across our channels as well as the ITV Hub, the unique spectacle and action the NFL brings.”
Henry Hodgson, NFL UK managing director, added: “This is another significant milestone for the NFL in this country. We have enjoyed seven fantastic years of NFL coverage on the BBC and the time is right to take advantage of the opportunities offered by a new partnership with ITV.
“When you look at the development of the NFL in the UK in recent years – with momentum behind fan growth, more London games, successful British players in the NFL, the launch of an academy and a charitable foundation – this announcement is another sign of our ambition to grow and develop the sport in the UK.”
The NFL adds to ITV’s sports rights portfolio that includes English soccer’s FA Cup and second-tier EFL, England Women’s national team games, rugby union’s Six Nations, the men’s and women’s Rugby World Cups, UK horse racing, and cycling’s Tour de France.
Last week, ITV also secured a three-year deal to show Spanish soccer's LaLiga.
Meanwhile, online retail giant Amazon has signed a three-year agreement with Nielsen to measure its exclusive NFL Thursday Night Football (TNF) broadcasts on the Prime Video streaming platform.
The partnership has been described as a first-of-its-kind deal whereby an over-the-top platform will be included in Nielsen's national TV measurement service.
Starting with the 2022 season, measurement will include full coverage of the TNF broadcast – pre-game, in-game, and post-game programming – on Prime Video and Twitch, as well as the over-the-air stations in teams' local markets each week, and out-of-home viewing.
This will mark the first time a streaming service will have one of its live programs measured via Nielsen.
TNF will be “measured and processed like all other NFL games, using Nielsen's panel, allowing for the same metrics to be reported across all other national networks, continued trending, and comparability.”
Nielsen will begin measuring TNF on Amazon starting with its live pre-season showing on August 25 when the San Francisco 49ers take on the Houston Texans.
Amazon's exclusive 15-game TNF regular season slate kicks off on September 15 when the Los Angeles Chargers take on the Kansas City Chiefs. In total, 29 of the NFL's 32 clubs will appear on TNF this season, culminating on December 29 when the Tennessee Titans host the Dallas Cowboys.
According to advertising agency Ad Age, Amazon has warned advertisers that viewership for TNF is likely to drop for the upcoming season to an average of around $12.5 million – a smaller figure than when it aired on linear television.
A 30-second ad spot with the retail powerhouse is reportedly going for $500,000, compared to the $635,439 figure national network Fox averaged last year.
The 2021 season was the last for TNF on Fox, which had been sharing the rights with Amazon since 2018, as well as the league’s own NFL Network.
Amazon has rights to TNF for the next 11 seasons after it agreed to begin its exclusive deal with the NFL a year earlier than planned.
The company’s long-term deal is worth around $1 billion per year.