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CBS chief executive confident of retaining NFL rights

Joe Ianniello, the acting CBS chief executive, is confident the network will secure a renewal of its NFL rights from 2022, when they are scheduled to go to market.

In 2013, CBS began a nine-year extension of its partnership with the NFL, worth a reported $9.23bn, which included the 2016, 2019 and 2022 Super Bowls. The network, though, will instead air the Super Bowl in 2021 after agreeing on a swap with NBC.

CBS earned a reported $382m alone from Super Bowl advertising sales this year, indicating the value of NFL rights, which remain by far the most-watched sports property on US television, and most watched of any US TV programming regardless of genre.

“We certainly anticipate retaining the NFL. Their core audience is broadcast,” Ianniello said at the Credit Suisse communications conference on Wednesday. “You’ve never seen a Super Bowl on a cable network…They understand the broad reach. We’ll be partners for a long time.”

Ianiello added that he sees sports betting as a “huge” business opportunity for the network. “It’s an advertising play for us,” he said. “It’s digital advertising, the demographics are very favourable, so we are leaning into that with our trusted brands — CBS Sports HQ, CBSN, ET Live.”

Sports betting is “already generating millions of dollars of advertising revenue for us” in states where sports betting is legal,” Ianiello said.

“As that expands, there is a huge advertising opportunity, particularly in local advertising. But then more broadly, with our platforms, CBS Sports HQ or our CBS Sports cable network, and we own Sportsline, as [betting] becomes legal state by state, I do think there is a bigger platform opportunity. And we are having multiple discussions with several partners to make sure we get the opportunity right,” he said.

Ianniello has been acting as interim CEO since September 2018 following the resignation of Les Moonves regarding sexual misconduct accusations.