This appears to be a big get for CBS, bringing one of television’s few sure-fire audience magnets to the most lucrative night for programming. Just about everyone — including Google — was interested in rights to the NFL games. CBS and NFL Network will simulcast eight early season games on Thursday nights; the NFL’s cable channel will air eight additional ones including two Saturday matches. The NFL and CBS didn’t announce financial terms for the deal that just runs for the 2014 season unless the NFL wants to extend it to 2015. ABC, Fox, NBC and Turner also bid for the package with initial offers that approached $300M, Sports Business Daily reports. CBS will produce all 16 of the games, and the Thursday night ones will include its lead broadcasters Jim Nantz and Phil Simms. CBS announcers will join NFL Network hosts and analysts in the pregame, halftime and postgame shows. The NFL “represents the best premium content there is,” CBS chief Les Moonves says. “I look forward to all this new deal will do for us not only on Thursday nights, but across our entire schedule.” The addition to the network’s Sunday AFC package “further strengthens our position in the sports marketplace,” CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus adds. The NFL Network has aired Thursday Night Football for the last five years and reported in December that in 2013 the games attracted an average audience of 8M viewers, +10% vs 2012.
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