Originally Posted by JMarr
The NFLPA is already screwed because of the TV situation--billions of dollars coming in from the networks even if no games are played.
While it's true that under the contract with the TV networks, they continue to pay on schedule in the event of a lockout, the NFL doesn't get to keep the money. They are required to enter into arbitration with the networks over the appropriate levels of compensation. This will, of course, take approximately.. for-freaking-ever. So while the owners won't be hit as immediately as the players, they're still losing money long-term.
Secondly, no matter what the owners or their reps are saying, they have to have an idea just how damaging a lockout would be.
The NFL is enjoying unprecedented growth at present and an interruption right now would be terribly disruptive.
Thanks to on-demand, netflix and DVR, the networks are madly in love with live event television right now... especially if it attracts young men. It's no accident that shows with live performances and results, like American Idol and Dancing With the Stars do so well, as well as buzzy serialized shows like Lost, where if you don't watch on time, you'll probably end up having what happens spoiled for you.
This is a huge advantage for the NFL at the moment... but it's not going to last forever. Eventually, as the other options become more familiar and more convenient, people will eventually stop missing the feeling of knowing that they're watching something live at the same time as everyone else. With the rate that the new delivery streams like netflix and on-demand are growing, 2011 is not a year the NFL wants to sit out -- this might be the last best year for the NFL to grow its brand.
Finally, while the NFL might still get it's weekly checks from the networks, they might come at the expense of poisoning the well. The TV networks do not have the liquidity and are far more dependent on their NFL programming than they were in the early 80's. A strike this time could badly damage the league's relationships with the networks, as well as the networks themselves. Right now, the NFL is one of a scant few properties that makes the current network TV model still make the slightest bit of financial sense. If the NFL pulls the rug out from underneath the networks just now, network television as we know will not survive 2011.
It's starting already with Comcast buying out NBC -- eventually, the networks are going to all be absorbed by companies who are part of the new entertainment distribution paradigm. The old networks will continue to exist as entertainment brands, but they will no longer be allowed to throw good money after bad to prolong their existence... they will have only as much money put into them as their cable/internet providing parent companies can expect to get out.
What does this mean for the NFL? It means no more negotiating with desperate fools clinging to the old ways of doing things who might really want the NFL, but don't need it the way the current networks do. It also means negotiating with companies that won't tolerate DirecTV getting exclusive out-of-market and web broadcasting rights. It means lots of big, scary and expensive changes in the way things work.
Basically, the NFL is in a really, really good, but equally tenuous, spot -- the owners have to know that this is not the time to be rocking the boat.