Ex-ESPN Head John Skipper Predicts NFL’s Super Bowl May Become a Pay-Per-View Event

The Super Bowl is the most-watched TV program of the year, by far

The Super Bowl LV logo at Raymond James Stadium in 2021. Could the Super Bowl ever be a pay-per-view event?
The Super Bowl LV logo at Raymond James Stadium in 2021.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty

The former head of ESPN suggested in a recent interview that the biggest event in sports may eventually become a pay-per-view event.

Speaking to the Le Batard And Friends show, John Skipper suggested that the Super Bowl — which is always the most-watched TV program of the year with an average of more than 100 million viewers for CBS, NBC or Fox — may end up behind a PPV paywall as pro leagues look to compensate for declining ad revenues.

“You’ll have to supplement … You may end up with some pay-per-view stuff. Super Bowl. That’s an interesting thing. Take that to pay-per-view,” Skipper said. “I mean that’s how they’re gonna replace the money someday. Because there’s not gonna be enough money in the advertising. If people are willing to pay big money to see Floyd Mayweather fight a Paul brother, I would think the money generated by a pay-per-view … Maybe you’ll be able to pay a lifetime subscription.”

With 4.6 million buys and $600 million in revenue, Mayweather’s bout with Manny Pacquiao in 2015 is the highest-grossing PPV event of all time. With that fight costing $99.95 for high definition and $89.95 for standard, the NFL could charge up to $200 per home for the Super Bowl and get it, pay-per-view expert Joe Hand Jr. told Front Office Sports. “The numbers would be astronomical,” he said.

They would be, but it seems incredibly unlikely CBS, NBC, Fox and ABC/ESPN, who paid around $90 billion in March to carry NFL games through 2033 and will switch off airing the Super Bowl as part of the agreement, would agree to the crown jewel of their collective contract going behind a paywall.

“The chances of a PPV Super Bowl are still slight,” per FOS. “The NFL appears committed to showing its games on network TV. Then again, nobody thought the NFL would embrace sports betting, either.”

Airing on NBC, Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium in California will be played on February 13, 2022. Though the game is more than six months away and NBC is asking for between $5.8 million and $6.2 million for a 30-second commercial, the network has already sold 85% of its ad inventory for Super Sunday. Seeking $5.5 million for a 30-second ad during Super Bowl LV earlier this year amid the coronavirus pandemic, CBS didn’t reach sell-out levels until late January, according to Variety.

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