Sports

Sports 'super agent' Drew Rosenhaus: I'm not worried about Silicon Valley's new interest in NFL

Key Points
  • Rosenhaus, who had clients on both teams at Sunday's Super Bowl, said he would welcome Big Tech securing additional broadcast rights for NFL games.
  • "I'm not concerned at all. I think it's great for fans," Rosenhaus told CNBC on Monday, the day after the big game.
  • Most of the NFL's current media deals are set to expire at the end of the 2022 season.
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Silicon Valley's new interest in the NFL is great for fans, sports agent Drew Rosenhaus says

Big Tech securing additional broadcast rights for NFL games would be a welcome development, sports "super agent" Drew Rosenhaus told CNBC on Monday.

"I'm not concerned at all. I think it's great for fans," said Rosenhaus, whose clients include Kansas City's Tyreek Hill and San Francisco's Kwon Alexander.

The NFL is already "at everyone's fingertips," Rosenhaus said in a "Squawk on the Street" interview. "It's tremendous and it's only going to get easier" with any new distribution models.

Rosenhaus' comments come one day after Hill's Chiefs defeated Alexander's 49ers in Super Bowl LIV.

With many people watching the game as much for the TV commercials as the football, Facebook, Alphabet's Google and Amazon all ran major advertisements during the Fox broadcast.

The game marked a conclusion to an NFL season that saw regular-season TV viewership rise by 5% for the second consecutive year. It follows a two-year stretch of declining audiences, punctuated by a 9.7% dip for the 2017 season.

This season, NFL games finished with 47 of the top 50 telecasts.

The rising viewership is a boon to the NFL as it hopes to renegotiate media deals with TV partners CBS, FOX, NBC, ESPN and AT&T's DirecTV.

In all, the league receives more than $5 billion per year for its broadcast rights, but that sum could rise to as much as $8 billion to $10 billion in renegotiated contracts, according to sources of CNBC's Jabari Young.

The contracts of the three major broadcast networks — CBS, FOX and NBC — are set to expire at the end of 2022, while ESPN's deal to air "Monday Night Football" ends after 2021.

The looming expiration of these deals has ignited questions about whether Big Tech companies will make considerable pushes to secure broadcast rights.

For the past two years Amazon has been streaming "Thursday Night Football," and Twitter had those digital rights in 2016.

While the Amazon contract ended after this year, league officials told CNBC in December that the NFL would like to sign another short-term deal with a streaming company.

In September, Jimmy Pitaro, the president of ESPN, said he expected Silicon Valley firms to make an effort to obtain broadcast rights.

"I have no idea if they're going to be interested specifically in 'Monday Night Football,' but I do believe that several new media companies are going to be interested in acquiring more NFL rights," Pitaro said, according to the Associated Press.

Rosenhaus said the NFL would be wise to continue increasing the availability of games through streaming partners. Video streaming is a "brilliant platform," said Rosenhaus, who has negotiated more than $7 billion in player contracts.

"At one time you had to have a [DirecTV] Sunday Ticket to watch the games," he said. "The NFL is just making it so easy if you're an NFL fan to watch a game, and I think they've done a magnificent job for the entire world to have access to the football games."

In 2018, Brian Rolapp, the NFL's chief media and business officer, told CNBC that "television is always going to be a really important part of the distribution strategy."

One of the reasons may be that millions of people in the U.S. do not have access to minimum speed broadband internet, according to a 2019 FCC report.

Disclosure: Comcast owns NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC and NBC Sports.