ESPN, one of the NFL’s broadcast network partners, have quite a ratings disaster on their hands this Saturday when the Houston Texans host the Oakland Raiders in the NFL’s wild card opener.
Houston and Oakland’s awful quarterback situations set the table for what may be a brutal viewing experience. Of course, ESPN will be one of the losers in Saturday’s battle.
Clay Travis explained ESPN’s conundrum in an article for Outkick the Coverage:
But until today I thought that at least ESPN was getting this wild card game as part of the $1.9 billion a year it pays for Monday Night Football and assorted other NFL studio shows. That Monday Night Football package just hit the lowest ratings in nearly a decade and narrowly avoided becoming the worst rated package of games in over forty years of Monday Night Football. But I was wrong about this game being included in that deal.
It turns out, and this is positively mind boggling, that ESPN pays $100 million dollars just to air this single wild card game.
Seriously, ESPN is paying $100 million to televise Raiders at Texans on Saturday.
You’re reading correctly. ESPN will take a $75 million bath on this game simply because they desperately wanted to air an NFL playoff game.
Unfortunately for them, they are typically saddled with the first playoff game on Saturday, which has historically been the least desirable playoff game of the weekend.
Sometimes paying $100 million for something doesn’t necessarily mean a bang for the buck is on the horizon.
Until ESPN’s deal changes and/or the TV deal is restructured, this is a bad situation for the worldwide leader in sports.
In a year where NFL ratings tanked, Raiders and Texans will not exactly be a golden parachute for the league.