[Ed. – Told you so. Shorter Travis: Meltdown.]
Effectively ESPN is tossing up a trial balloon letting Wall Street know they probably can’t afford to keep Monday Night Football rights past 2021 when its current deal expires, but they’re trying to make it seem as if this is their decision and it’s a good thing for the company.
And they’re simultaneously letting Wall Street know that their business won’t completely collapse without the NFL either because, how convenient, their executives are geniuses who negotiated language that protected them in case they couldn’t afford the NFL.
But if you think the cable and satellite companies are going to keep paying $7 a month to ESPN without the NFL package, I’ve got a bridge to sell you. This final sentence is hysterical ESPN spin: “Sure, distributors would be aghast, demanding to negotiate lower fees probably immediately, but the point is, there would be negotiations, enabling ESPN to do everything it could to keep those numbers as high as possible.”
Another way to put this would be as follows: ESPN’s business is collapsing so rapidly that they are now trying to figure out which would be more destructive — losing billions on the NFL or losing billions in cable and satellite revenue because they don’t have the NFL.