Fox Didn’t Overpay For NFL Thursday Night Rights, Says CEO Peter Rice

Fox Networks CEO Peter Rice said that the $3.3 billion the network paid for NFL Thursday night games over the next five years doesn’t represent an overpayment.

Speaking at the Code Media conference, Rice responded to a question on whether paying 30 percent more per game for the rights in the face of the NFL’s declining ratings was a smart move.

“Any time you go to an auction, somebody wins, and everybody who loses says that the winner overpaid,” Rice said. “You either have the most-watched content on television, or you don’t have it.”

The NFL has faced declining ratings for the past few years, but still is among the most-watched programming on television. Fox has been spending big on the NFL since 1993, Rice said, and claimed the revenue from those deals have helped the network in other areas, such as creating FX. That should continue in the future, he predicted.

Rice also said the 21st Century Fox deal with Disney was made because “we thought (that) was good for Fox shareholders.” A report surfaced yesterday that Comcast was mulling renewing its bid for Fox. The media giant was rejected even though it reportedly made a higher bid than Disney for the Fox assets, with analysts indicating that Fox felt government anti-trust concerns would drag out any deal’s consummation.

Rice also said he does not know which company he will go to if Disney closes the 21st Century Fox deal.

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