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Chris Chase

ESPN nears deal to extend 'MNF' rights for $2 billion per season

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ESPN will pay the NFL nearly $2 billion per season for the rights to air NFL content, including "Monday Night Football."

John Ourand of Sports Business Journal reports that the two sides are on the verge of a nine- or 10-year extension said to be worth as much as $1.9 billion per season. The agreement would be an extension of the eight-year, $8.8 billion deal that gave the network the rights to "Monday Night Football" in 2006. Other NFL properties like the draft and highlight packages would also be covered under the agreement.

As Ourand points out, ESPN already paid more than FOX ($720 million), CBS ($620 million) and NBC ($603 million). This new deal could pay as much per year as the other three networks combined. Of course, by the time the ESPN deal kicks in two years from now, the other networks will likely have increased their rights fees as well. The other three recently extended their contracts until the 2013 season.

It's a staggering fee and further demonstrates how dominant the NFL is on the sporting and television landscape. In a world of DVRs, iPads, video games and Netflix, football is the one reliable television broadcast that Americans feel the need to watch live. Thus, it's attractive to both networks and advertisers.

And though it has nothing to do with future labor talks, 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.

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Here's a list of things that are less than $1.9 billion:

• Yearly GDPs of Sierra Leone, Greenland, Belize and Guyana (among others).

• Value of the Pittsburgh Steelers and San Francisco 49ers, combined

• Total payrolls of all 12 playoff teams.

• Cost of Cowboys Stadium and New Meadowlands.

• Amount of money given to Homeland Security Department from the stimulus.

• Total worldwide gross for every movie every released, with the exception of "Avatar."

• Facebook's yearly revenue

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