NFL Network Suffers $20M Budget Cut - Report


The NFL Network’s ratings for last month’s draft dropped 18 percent from the previous year, the latest sign of trouble for the league’s official television outlet.

Now the network is feeling the financial toll.

The New York Post reported Wednesday that the NFL Network is being forced to cut $20 million of its projected budget for the upcoming season.

As a result, five shows are being eliminated, including Deion Sanders’ “21st & Prime.”

The Post said the budget cut has created a tense atmosphere at NFL Network headquarters as there are still negotiations to take place regarding on-air talent for the 2019 season.

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Sanders’ show normally aired during weeknights on the network and was co-hosted by Amber Theoharis. “21st & Prime” centered around Sanders offering his insights on the previous week and often featured other NFL Network analysts, such as Maurice Jones-Drew.

Other shows being cut are “Power Rankings,” “Pick ’em,” “Playbook” and “Mic’d Up,” the report said. The future of the weekend version of “Good Morning Football” is also up in the air.

Most of those shows are hosted by on-air talent, but “Mic’d Up” usually just features NFL players wearing microphones in the previous week of games and has no host.

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According to the Post, there is a feeling at the network that many on-air personalities won’t be retained or will be forced to take pay cuts.

The network’s spin is that it is reallocating resources toward the league’s “NFL 100” celebration marking its centennial season. The NFL began in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association.

“As part of an increased investment in programming and content for 2019, NFL Network will unveil several shows geared towards a celebration of the NFL’s 100th season,” NFL Network spokesman Alex Riethmiller said in a statement to the Post. “These shows will replace a handful of existing shows from our 2018 schedule.”

The NFL Network’s financial issues weren’t helped by a recent settlement of a sexual harassment lawsuit.

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In November, the network reached a settlement with a former wardrobe stylist who accused several NFL Network personalities of sexually harassment.

Jami Cantor sued the network in 2017, saying she was “subjected to ongoing and continuing sexual harassment by current and former on-air talent,” including Marshall Faulk, Warren Sapp, Heath Evans and Ike Taylor.

Cantor claimed she notified NFL Network officials but nothing was ever done and she was fired and replaced with a younger woman.

All of those accused in the lawsuit lost their jobs with NFL Network.

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Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009.
Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009 and previously worked for ESPN, CBS and STATS Inc. A native of Louisiana, Ross now resides in Houston.
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