Sports network ESPN may soon up the fee it pays the National Football League to broadcast Monday Night Football to as much as $2 billion per year for the next decade, Sports Business Daily reports. The current NFL-ESPN deal, worth $1.1 billion, is set to expire after the 2013 season. As part of the negotiations, the network is hoping to secure the right to broadcast over broadband networks and stream games onto mobile devices as part of its "TV Everywhere" campaign.

Negotiations are taking place as owners and players prepare for a possible lockout in March, when the league's current collective bargaining agreement expires.

What lessons for football fans can we draw from MNF's record-high price tag?

  • This Comes At Awkward Time for NFL, explains Matthew Futterman at The Wall Street Journal. The deal would highlight "the health and power of the league at a time when owners are threatening a lockout "because they claim the league is facing economic turmoil," he notes. He adds that while every network broadcasting NFL games has experienced record ratings this past season, the league says its ticket sales have stayed flat.
  • In DVR Era, Live NFL Games Command Higher Premium, states Kit Eaton at Fast Company: "ESPN is forking over some 70% more per annum because the NFL is increasingly aware of how valuable its content is, particularly in the digital broadcast era where TV content is increasingly diluted across different platforms."
  • Many Downsides for Fans, claims Jon C. Ogg at 24/7 Wall St: "Suddenly, the players' agents will ask for even more money. It can drive up the costs of cable stations in packages. If the gouging by this amount is true, then we might as well expect game tickets to become even more exclusionary for Joe Public. Food and drinks at the game will probably go up again too. The way price hikes tend to work is in unison, even if it takes a season or two to catch up."
  • Could Deal 'Prevent an NFL Lockout?' asks Kurt Badenhausen at Forbes.

Owners want a bigger piece of the revenue pie while players want to maintain their current share which ranges from 50-60% based on how you define revenue ...

The player's union has to love seeing TV contract extensions at huge increases. It gives less credence to the owners' position that they can not make things work under the NFL's current financial structure. It illustrates the dominant position the NFL holds on the current TV landscape where must-see live programming is increasingly rare ... Could ESPN's extension push owners and players closer together to a deal under the premise that there is more money for both parties?

  • This Has Nothing to Do With Labor Talks, But Still... observes Chris Chase at Yahoo: "With those dollar figures floating around, it's impossible to imagine the league not starting the regular season on time in 2011. There's way too much at stake."