In the United States, sports are televised on various broadcast networks, national and specialty sports cable channels, and regional sports networks. U.S. sports rights are estimated to be worth a total of $22.42 billion in 2019, about 44 percent of the total worldwide sports media market. U.S. networks are willing to pay a significant amount of money for television sports contracts because it attracts large amounts of viewership; live sport broadcasts accounted for 44 of the 50 list of most watched television broadcasts in the United States in 2016.
Since the 1960s, all regular season and playoff games broadcast in the United States have been aired by national television networks. Until the broadcast contract ended in 2013, the terrestrial television networks CBS, NBC, and Fox, as well as cable television's ESPN, paid a combined total of US$20.4 billion to broadcast NFL games. From 2014 to 2022, the same networks will pay $39.6 billion for exactly the same broadcast rights. The NFL thus holds broadcast contracts with four companies (Paramount Global, Comcast, Fox Corporation, and ESPN Inc.—which is majority owned by The Walt Disney Company, respectively) that control a combined media cross-ownership in the United States. League-owned NFL Network, on cable television, also broadcasts a selected number of games nationally. In 2017, the NFL games attracted the top three rates for a 30-second advertisement: $699,602 for NBC Sunday Night Football, $550,709 for Thursday Night Football (NBC), and $549,791 for Thursday Night Football (CBS).
For the 2020 NFL season, two extra wild card playoff games are being added to the schedule; CBS and NBC acquired rights to these new games, with both paying roughly $70 million each.
Westwood One has exclusive national radio rights through an unspecified multi-year period starting in the 2022 season. As of 2022[update], Westwood One airs coverage of nationally telecast primetime games, as well as all playoff games and other NFL events.
Sirius XM has exclusive satellite radio rights to home, away, and, if available, national broadcast radio feeds of all games. It also has rights to online streaming of games for its subscribers starting with the 2011 season.
College football coverage is dependent on negotiations between the broadcaster and the college football conference or team. The televised games may change from year-to-year depending on which teams are having a strong season, although some traditional college rivalry games are broadcast each year. Some games are traditionally associated with a specific event or holiday, and viewing the game itself can become a holiday tradition for fans.
Post-season bowl games, including the College Football Playoff, are presently all televised, most of them by the ESPN networks. The television broadcast rights to all six CFP bowls and the National Championship are owned by ESPN through at least the 2025 season. In November 2012, ESPN reached a 12-year deal to broadcast the remaining three bowls, the championship game, as well as shoulder programming such as ranking shows; as a whole, the contract is valued at around $470 million per year, or nearly $5.7 billion for the life of the contract.
Since 2013, ESPN's networks have held rights to the Canadian Football League; the league's domestic rights are held by The Sports Network, a Canadian sports channel that ESPN holds a minority ownership stake in. This agreement was renewed in 2014 for five years, aligned with TSN's domestic contract, with a stipulation that at least 17 games would be carried on an ESPN linear network each season (primarily ESPN2), including the Grey Cup. Originally ESPN3 carried all games not carried on one of the linear channels online, later ESPN moved those games to ESPN+.
The new incarnation of the XFL divided its broadcast rights between ESPN on ABC/ESPN and Fox Sports under a three-year deal. XFL games were split among ABC, Fox, ESPN, and Fox Sports 1 (with a small number of games scheduled for ESPN2 and Fox Sports 2). ESPN was to air the championship game. The Wall Street Journal reported via inside sources that neither the broadcasters or the league made any upfront payments, but that the XFL sold the in-game sponsorship inventory. The networks covered the production costs, held the digital rights to their telecasts, and the right to sell the conventional commercial inventory during their games.
The league filed for bankruptcy and folded when the first season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, during the bankruptcy process, Fox expressed interest in broadcasting games if new owners could revive the league. The league was sold to a group headed by actor Dwayne Johnson for $15 million.
On August 28, 2012, it was announced that ESPN and Major League Baseball had agreed on a new eight-year deal that greatly increases the network's studio and game content across all of its platforms. Also it increased ESPN's average yearly payment from about $360 million to approximately $700 million. ESPN also returned to broadcasting postseason baseball beginning in 2014 with one of two wild-card games each season. The network alternates airing the American League and National League wild-card games each year. It also has the rights to all potential regular-season tiebreaker games starting in 2014.
On September 19, 2012, Sports Business Daily reported that Major League Baseball would agree to separate eight-year television deals with Fox Sports and Turner Sports through the 2021 season. Fox would reportedly pay around $4 billion over eight years (close to $500 million per year) while Turner would pay around $2.8 billion over eight years (more than $300 million per year). Under the new deals, Fox and TBS's coverage would essentially be the same as in the 2007–2013 contract with the exception of Fox and TBS splitting coverage of the Division Series, which TBS has broadcast exclusively dating back to 2007. More importantly, Fox would carry some of the games (such as the Saturday afternoon Game of the Week) on its all-sports channel, Fox Sports 1. Sources also said that was possible that Fox would sell some Division Series games to MLB Network, which did end up occurring.
On November 15, 2018, Fox renewed its rights, set to end in 2022, through 2028. The contract maintains Fox's current coverage structure, but with expanded digital rights, and the commitment to air more games on the Fox broadcast network when the new deal takes effect. Fox also committed to airing at least two of its League Championship Series games, as well as any Game 7, on the broadcast network beginning in 2019; it had been criticized for airing only Game 2 of the 2018 National League Championship Series, while placing the rest on Fox Sports 1.
On September 24, 2020, TBS also renewed its rights from 2022 through 2028, under which it will replace its late-season Sunday afternoon games with a season-long package of primetime games on Tuesday nights, and maintain its existing arrangements for playoff coverage. The contract also adds expanded digital rights for Bleacher Report and "additional WarnerMedia platforms". ESPN would in turn renew its rights to MLB on May 13, 2021, for the 2022 to 2028 seasons; the deal ends ESPN's coverage of weeknight games, but retains its exclusive Sunday night window and playoff telecasts.
On March 8, 2022, Apple Inc. signed a seven-year deal with MLB for the broadcast for US$85 million per year, a total value of $595 million. This includes an annual $55 million rights fee as well as $30 million for Apple advertising. Apple has the right to exit the agreement after the first or second year.
On April 9, 2022, NBC Sports announced an agreement with MLB for a package of new Sunday afternoon games starting from 2022 season; those matches are broadcast exclusively on Peacock.
Fox/FS1: 52 Saturday afternoon games; two Division Series; one League Championship Series; All-Star Game; World Series.
TBS: Tuesday night games throughout the season. Postseason coverage consists of two Division Series; and one League Championship Series. TNT serves as an overflow channel.
ESPN: 30 regular-season games annually. This include Sunday Night Baseball, the Little League Classic and the national Opening Night telecast. In addition, will continue to carry the Home Run Derby and can televise up to 10 Spring Training games. ESPN will have the rights to exclusively broadcast all MLB Wild Card Series starting in 2022. ESPN+ will continue to televise select MLB games, subject to blackout restrictions, nearly every day of the regular season.
MLB Network: Airs 26 non-exclusive MLB Network Showcase games, and Spanish coverage of TBS's playoff coverage. The channel also carries various other games simulcast from local broadcasters.
ESPN Radio: a Saturday game of the week, Sunday night, opening day and holiday games, plus the All-Star Game and the entire postseason.
TUDN Radio: Spanish-language coverage of select regular season games, the Home Run Derby, the All-Star Game, and the postseason.
MLB teams also contract with local broadcasters to air games on radio. Several teams have multiple affiliates covering those games. The flagship stations can air all games of the teams they contract with, other affiliates must allow ESPN radio coverage to air during the postseason.
ESPN Deportes has Spanish-language TV and radio rights to the Caribbean Series.
ESPN has rights to broadcast the entire Little League World Series, as well as the finals of the eight regional tournaments that determine the U.S. representatives in that competition. It distributes coverage among its family of networks and ABC; the final is aired on ABC.
ABC: 19 regular-season games (Christmas Day double or triple header, and late-season games on Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons); some first- and second-round playoff games (mostly on weekend afternoons); NBA Finals through 2025
ESPN: 82 regular-season games (mostly on Wednesday and Friday night doubleheaders; occasional Sunday and Monday night games); up to 30 playoff games during the first two rounds conference semi-final games and one of the conference finals per-season through 2025.
TNT: 67 regular-season games (mostly on Tuesday night doubleheaders); All-Star Weekend; up to 45 playoff games during the first two rounds; conference semi-final games and one of the conference finals per-season through 2025
NBA TV: 106 regular-season games on Sunday, Monday, Thursday and Saturday night and up to 9 postseason games through 2025
Additionally, local or regional broadcasters contract with the NBA team in their area for the right to broadcast a number of regular-season games locally. These broadcasters can be traditional over-the-air television stations as well as regional cable sports channels. WGN-TV, then a Chicago-based superstation, broadcast a limited number of Chicago Bulls regular season games on WGN America until 2014, fewer than they provided locally. If ESPN chooses to opt out of airing all of the games on their night, NBA TV airs a game in its place. Games in the first round of the playoffs can be aired by regional broadcasters, unless the national broadcaster has exclusive rights. Games in the first round not selected by national broadcasters are usually broadcast by NBA TV.
ESPN Radio: usually one game from the Sunday afternoon package, one game on Thursday night, and postseason coverage including all games in the Conference Finals and the NBA Finals
NBA teams also contract with local radio broadcasters to air their games. Teams may also have affiliates air their games.
Women's National Basketball Association
In 2013, the WNBA and ESPN signed a six-year extension on the broadcast deal to cover 2017–2022. In the new deal, a total of 30 games would be shown each season on ESPN networks. Each team would receive around $1 million per year.
The First Four round is televised exclusively by TruTV.
Since 2016, WarnerMedia networks broadcast the Final Four and national championship games in even-numbered years, and CBS in odd-numbered years. During years in which the Final Four is televised by WarnerMedia, TBS carries the conventional telecast, while TNT and TruTV carry special "Team Stream" telecasts with commentary and surrounding coverage focused on each of the participating teams.
Early-round coverage of all tournaments, weekend coverage of tournaments not aired by CBS or NBC, option to air supplemental coverage during NBC broadcast windows. Also airs coverage of the senior PGA Tour Champions circuit and the developmental Korn Ferry Tour.
Exclusive coverage of most events (selected events may have weekend coverage on NBC)
Current contract ends in 2021 (aligned with the current PGA Tour broadcast rights; as part of an agreement reached in 2016, the PGA Tour is responsible for managing the LPGA Tour's media rights). Includes the Solheim Cup (which aired weekend coverage on NBC for the first time in 2017).
Option for over-the-top streaming rights to all of Turner Sports' NHL telecasts.
Local or regional broadcasters contract with the NHL team in their area for the right to broadcast several regular-season games locally.
Sports USA Radio airs selected regular season and postseason games, including the entire Stanley Cup Finals. NHL teams also contract with local radio broadcasters to air game; games are also simulcast from local radio feeds on the Sirius XM satellite radio platform.
Premier Hockey Federation
The Premier Hockey Federation (PHF; formerly the National Women's Hockey League) has primarily partnered with streaming outlets, which have in the past included ESPN3,Cheddar, and Twitter. In 2019, the league signed with Twitch to stream games and ancillary content, in its first contract to ever include a rights fee.
NBCSN was to televise the league's 2021 semi-final and finals in the NWHL's first linear rights deal.
The NWHL had also reached an agreement with NBCSN to carry the 2021 Isobel Cup semi-finals and finals, which would marked the first NWHL games to be broadcast nationally on a linear television channel.
For 2021–22 season, The PHF, will stream 60 regular season games, special events and its Isobel Cup Playoffs exclusively on ESPN+ in the U.S.
Southern Professional Hockey League
America One: Regular season, playoffs and Championships through 2014
Fox Sports and NBC Sports have contracts for all NASCAR events through at least 2024. On October 15, 2012, NASCAR and the Fox Sports Media Group (FSMG) announced a new $2.4 billion eight-year deal, a 30% increase from their previous deal. On July 23, 2013, NASCAR and the NBC Sports Group announced a new $4.4 billion ten-year deal. Ten days later on August 1, 2013, NASCAR and Fox extended and expanded their agreement, paying an additional $1.4 billion to do so, to complete NASCAR's new TV package through the 2024 season.
RoadToIndy.TV will stream all sessions for USF2000 in 2019
ESPN aired Formula One from 1984 to 1997. Speed and Fox Sports Net shared broadcasting rights from 1998 to 2000. Speedvision and its successor Speed Channel continued to broadcast the championship until 2012. Fox aired select races from 2007 to 2012. NBC Sports had English-language TV broadcasting rights from 2013 through 2017. Races were televised by NBC, NBCSN or CNBC and streamed on NBC Sports Live Extra.
ESPN became the new broadcaster in 2018. The network unveiled plans to show over 100 hours of F1 programming during their first season returning to the sport. This included plans to show every practice and qualifying session in some capacity. Race broadcasts would be spread across ESPN and ESPN2 with plans to show live coverage of Canada GP, the American and Mexican Grand Prix live on ABC while also showing the Monaco Grand Prix on tape-delay. March 1 of that year they announced the launch of their own Over-the-top media service service called F1 TV Pro what show races live and on-demand.
NBC has held the American broadcasting rights to the Summer Olympic Games since the 1988 games and the rights to the Winter Olympic Games since the 2002 games. In 2011, NBC agreed to a $4.38 billion contract with the International Olympic Committee to broadcast the Olympics through the 2020 games, the most expensive television rights deal in Olympic history. NBC then agreed to a $7.75 billion contract extension on May 7, 2014, to air the Olympics through the 2032 games. NBC is one of the major sources of revenue for the IOC.
Fox Soccer Plus airs all televised Super League matches, select matches from the RFL Championship and all televised Challenge Cup ties, including the final. Fox Soccer Plus no longer foresees airing sports other than soccer. The Super League Grand Final airs on Fox Sports 2.
NBC Sports and Tennis Channel have the contracts through 2024. Coverage is aired on NBC, USA Network, Peacock, and Tennis Channel.
Tennis Channel shows live coverage in the morning and afternoon on weekdays. NBC shows weekend morning and Memorial Day early round matches in the afternoon via broadcast delay. If a match is still being played, it will be shown live. Tennis Channel cannot show NBC's tape delayed matches. NBC also airs one women's semi-final and one men's semi-final, broadcasting live in the Eastern Time Zone, delayed in all other time zones. USA Network also broadcasts the second men's semi-final, live in all time zones. NBC broadcasts both finals live, and USA Network broadcasts the women's doubles final live. Starting in 2021, Peacock will show weekend afternoon matches.
ESPN has the contract through 2035. ABC airs live matches during the middle weekend beginning in 2022. Tennis Channel has rights to daily highlights through 2036 also provides coverage. Coverage is as follows:
Days 1–6: ESPN, ESPN+, and ESPN3
Day 7: ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN+, and ESPN3
Days 8 and 9: ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN+ and ESPN3
Days 10–13 including the ladies' and gentlemen's singles finals: ESPN, ESPN+ and ESPN3
Same-day replays are aired on Tennis Channel throughout the tournament through 2023. Live matches of the middle weekend air on ABC beginning in 2022. Same-day replays of the ladies' and gentlemen's singles finals are aired on ABC.