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(Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

21st Century Fox President Peter Rice said Monday the network is willing to pay much more than previous rights owners for Thursday Night NFL games because, in his words: "You either have must-watch content on TV or you don't have it."

Why it matters: Rice says the Fox broadcast network is built on the value that the NFL brings to its brand, and all of 21st Century Fox's other channels — like FX, Nat Geo, Fox News — ride on the success of that broadcast channel, making the price tag reasonable even if it is much higher than what CBS and NBC paid over the past two years.

FOX Sports and the National Football League reached an agreement to broadcast Thursday Night Football games for five seasons, beginning in 2018. The deal is worth roughly $550 million per year, up $100 million from what CBS and NBC paid combined over the previous two seasons.

  • "If you look at our deal with NFL going back to 1993, the broadcast network brought so much value to the whole company. The broadcast channel helped launched every other channel we have, like regional sports networks, Nat Geo, etc.," Rice says.
  • Despite ratings slumps, NFL games accounted for roughly 75% of the of the 50 most-watched programs on TV in 2017.
  • Rice said the last time the NFL solicited rights for two-seasons they weren't as "aggressive" in the bidding process because the deals were too short.

Rice says the rights also give Fox the opportunity to build direct-to-consumer business and to divvy up distribution more strategically.

Rice says the new Fox, after a Disney merger, will be a very powerful, nimble and cash-rich broadcast company with strong sports and news assets. He says the likelihood of New Fox building a direct-to-consumer business is something they're looking at.

  • "We are now very reliant upon the bundle we present to distributors as a broad company."

Asked which would be a better owner for the Fox assets, Disney or Comcast, which has rumored to be tossing its hat in the ring for a second time, Rice said the deals would be great for Disney.

"Disney will be the biggest, most powerful company Hollywood has ever seen."
— 21st Century Fox President Peter Rice

New Fox will be run by Lachlan Murdoch. Asked about the future of James Murdoch after the merger, Rice said it's "up to James."

  • "I think he'll be captain of his own ship in terms of what he wants to do. I think he'll get to chose what he wants to do."

Go deeper

Chris Cuomo accuser: On-air "hypocrisy" spurred report

Journalist Chris Cuomo. Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images

A woman who accused fired CNN journalist Chris Cuomo of sexual misconduct said Sunday she decided to come forward after learning of his comments about women who made similar accusations about his brother. He denies her allegations.

Why it matters: Her attorney Debra Katz said in a statement that she heard "the hypocrisy" of his on-air words about his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and was "disgusted by his efforts to try to discredit these women," so "retained counsel to report his serious sexual misconduct against her to CNN."

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director says number of U.S. Omicron cases "likely to rise" — Two years of COVID-19 — Prior coronavirus infections may not protect well against Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Data demonstrates most-vaccinated counties less vulnerable to worst of COVID — Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate.
  4. World: Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles downWHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Vulnerable Democrats: Less Trump talk

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Vulnerable House Democrats are convinced they need to talk less about the man who helped them get elected: President Trump.

Why it matters: Democrats are privately concerned nationalizing the 2022 mid-terms with emotionally-charged issues — from Critical Race Theory to Donald Trump's role in the Jan. 6 insurrection — will hamstring their ability to sell the local benefits of President Biden's Build Back Better agenda.