At stake: billions in ad revenue for the networks that carry the games (CBS, ESPN, Fox, NBC and the NFL Network); the halo effect that those games have on related programming (what would they talk about on SportsCenter?); merchandising (forget about Madden NFL12); and the $5 billion Fantasy League business without its most popular fantasy players.
"The void would be impossible to fill," says Brad Adgate, senior vp research at Horizon Media. The NFL, he adds, is "far and away the most popular sport on television. There’s nothing in this multichannel, multiplatform world that could possibly come close to replacing it."