BREAKING: The coveted Thursday Night Football package has a new home — and an old one. The NFL has reached a deal with CBS and NBC to share the primetime Thursday package with its NFL Network. CBS had split the games with the league-owned cable net the past two seasons.
Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva reported January 13 that the rival broadcast nets could get the package, though the widely held speculation was that CBS would split the games with Fox.
“CBS has played an integral role over the last two seasons in helping build Thursdays as a night for NFL football, and we’re excited to have them on board again,” he said. “At the same time, we’re thrilled to add NBC to the Thursday Night Football mix, a trusted partner with a proven track record of success broadcasting NFL football in primetime, and look forward to expanding with a digital partner for what will be a unique tri-cast on broadcast, cable and digital platforms.”
But as it stands now, CBS and NBC each will air five Thursday games, growing the package to 10 broadcast games in 2016 and 2017 from eight the past two years. All of the games will continue to be simulcast on NFL Network, which will exclusively televise an eight-game schedule of regular-season Thursday and late-season Saturday games, with additional games to be determined. No price tag was announced, but reports say the broadcast nets each will pay $225 million for five games.
Thursday Night Football had its most-watched and highest-rated season ever in 2015 but was a ratings mixed bag in its 2014 broadcast debut, ranking as the lowest-rated primetime NFL package on broadcast TV since 2008.
Robert Kraft, New England Patriots owner and Chairman of the NFL’s Broadcast Committee, said of the new deal: “Our mission when we first put games on Thursday nights in 2006 was to work strategically to make Thursdays a night for NFL football in the mold of what Monday and Sunday nights mean to millions of fans across the country. We’ve made great strides since that point, and growing the base of games with CBS, now with NBC, and soon with digital streaming will only help us solidify this night in the consciousness of NFL fans here and globally.”