NFL Broadcast Rights on the Move

By Ross Crowell, Law Library GRA Sports Law Correspondent

Watching primetime NFL games on television will probably look a bit different during the 2022 season. Fox, CBS, NBC, ESPN, and Amazon are all trying to figure out who they will have announcing their games during this upcoming football season. These multi-million dollar broadcasting contracts are legally complex, implicating different areas such as Contract Law, Employment Law, Media Law. There are also potential Antitrust Law implications, since the NFL and its television broadcasters are regulated by the Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961, which grants a limited exemption to the Sherman Act permitting the various teams to enter into joint broadcasting agreements despite their anticompetitive effects.

NFL Broadcast Rights on the Move

The biggest shift relates to increased importance of streaming rights. Amazon has shaken things up being a new player in this business, as they now have the exclusive rights to stream 15 Thursday Night Football games for the 2022 season on Amazon Prime.

The networks’ broadcast booths will be playing musical chairs, as many of the biggest names will be on the move. Some top broadcasters that are potentially leaving networks are Troy Aikman (Fox), Al Michaels (NBC), Louis Riddick (ESPN), and Brian Griese (ESPN). Riddick is being considered for NFL general manager positions and Griese, whose contract expired after the 2021 season, will reportedly become the San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks coach. Aikman, who reportedly will become the new color analyst for Monday Night Football at ESPN, has broadcasted for Fox for 20 years, spending 19 of those with broadcast partner Joe Buck. Aikman’s reported deal will be for five years and close to $18 million annually. 

In addition to current broadcasters, some big-name former players are also in consideration for these roles. Recently retired 7-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady reportedly will be contacted by Amazon and Fox to gauge his interest in broadcasting. Drew Brees, who led the New Orleans Saints to a Super Bowl, was on television last season for NBC and could be poached by one of the competing networks. 

However, Brees only has one year of experience on television and Brady has not broadcasted any games, as he retired just over a month ago. As these contracts for broadcasters rival what the top players in the NFL are paid, it is a bit of a risk to hire someone with inexperience. However, the names of Brees and Brady likely will draw in many fans that would want to tune in to their broadcasts. The networks will have to carefully weigh these various considerations when negotiating these complex employment contracts.

College Athletes Can Profit from their Names, Images, and Likenesses. Now What?

By Ross Crowell, Law Library GRA Sports Law Correspondent

Prior to 2021, college athletes were strictly seen as unpaid athletes. That has changed over the past several months, as now college athletes are able to make money off of their name, image and likeness (“NIL”). While the schools are still not allowed to directly pay their student athletes, the student athletes can now make money from things like advertisements and social media. However, the confusing legal environment surrounding NIL means that colleges and athletes are unsure of what they can and cannot do.

The history behind the change involves federalism, activism, and antitrust law. First, Florida passed a state law in June 2020 that legalized college athletes to capitalize off of their name, image and likeness, with the law going into effect on July, 1, 2021. Several other states followed Florida. These state laws, along with activism by the college athletes , a Supreme Court opinion holding NCAA limits on education-related benefits to be invalid under federal antitrust law, and other events, led to the NCAA adopting a temporary rule change on June 30, 2021, allowing college athletes to benefit from their name, image, and likeness.

The NCAA abruptly enacting this temporary rule change has created mass confusion among its member schools, as there is currently not much clarity on what is and what is not allowed. Additionally, different states having very different NIL laws has put some schools at a disadvantage. For example, Alabama and Florida, among other states, have stricter NIL laws than other states. Thus, college athletes in those jurisdictions cannot take advantage of the NIL to the same degree as athletes in states that do not have any NIL law at all (such as Kentucky and Virginia). 

Sports balls on a background comprised of $100 bills.


With players signing lucrative NIL contracts to appear in national advertisements for established brands, stakeholders are seeking clarity and uniformity. From the perspective of colleges, restrictive state NIL laws could be a disadvantage in recruiting, or even prompt top athletes to transfer to schools where they can fully take advantage of NIL. This resulted in the Alabama House voting in favor of repealing its prior law. Other states likely will follow, as the state legislatures will want their universities on a level playing field with schools in other states. 

The best solution to this issue may be to enact a new federal law to restore uniformity by preempting the current state NIL laws. Instead of 50 different state laws dictating how their college athletes can profit from their NILs, there would be a single rule that all universities and teams have to play by. 

The NCAA seems to feel the same way. When the NCAA announced the legality of NIL on June 30, 2021, Division I Board of Directors chair Denise Trauth said, “with this interim solution in place, we will continue to work with Congress to adopt federal legislation to support student-athletes.” Congress held a hearing on October 1, 2021, where NCAA president Mark Emmert called on Congress to act, claiming that the NCAA has an urgent need for NIL federal framework.

So far, there has not been any federal or NCAA action taken. This will be an interesting issue to follow, as many college sports pundits claim that NIL has turned college athletics into the “wild wild west” without an overarching law.