(The Sports Xchange) – The NFL will expand “Thursday Night Football” in 2016 and 2017, continuing its partnership with CBS while also adding NBC to the package.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Leslie Moonves, president and CEO of CBS, and Steve Burke, CEO of NBC Universal, made the announcement Monday.
Both CBS and NBC will broadcast five Thursday night games, growing the package to 10 broadcast games in 2016 and 2017 from eight in 2014 and 2015. All TNF broadcast games will continue to be simulcast on NFL Network.
CBS and NBC agreed to pay $225 million each for the right to broadcast five NFL games apiece over the next two seasons, sources told the Sports Business Daily.
The $450 million haul for 10 games marks an increase from the $300 million CBS paid for eight games last season.
NFL Network also will televise an eight-game schedule of regular-season games comprised of TNF, late-season games on Saturday and additional games to be determined.
Both CBS and NBC will produce “Thursday Night Football” with their lead broadcasters and production teams, and both will contribute to the production of TNF on NFL Network.
CBS and NFL Network will televise the first half of the TNF schedule with NBC and NFL Network televising the second half.
The league also announced the NFL is in active discussions with prospective digital partners for streaming rights to “Thursday Night Football.”
“We are continuing to make Thursday Night Football bigger and better,” Goodell said in a statement. “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.
“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.”
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, chairman of the NFL’s broadcast committee, said, “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.”
Moonves of CBS said, “The CBS Corporation and the CBS Television Network are extremely pleased to continue our successful partnership with the NFL on Thursday nights. Thursday Night Football has provided extremely valuable programming and a powerful promotional platform to help launch CBS’ primetime schedule, contributing to our standing as the perennial No. 1 and most-watched network. Broadcasting the first half of the Thursday Night Football schedule is a terrific way to jump start the 2016-17 television season. We look forward to another great year of the NFL on CBS on both Thursdays and Sundays.”
Burke of NBC said, “The NFL has the most powerful programming on television, and we are delighted to expand our primetime schedule to 24 regular-season games. Thursday Night Football is an important addition to NBC’s No. 1 ranked primetime lineup, and the perfect complement to our award winning Sunday Night Football broadcast. The NFL is a terrific partner, and we could not be more pleased about expanding our relationship.”
“Thursday Night Football” started in 2006 with an eight game schedule on NFL Network. By 2012, TNF had grown to a 13-game schedule on NFL Network, where it remained through the 2013 season. For both the 2014 and 2015 seasons, CBS partnered with NFL Network to present an expanded 16-game TNF schedule.
For the 16 games of the 2015 schedule, TNF on CBS and NFL Network (and over-the-air stations) averaged a 7.9 household rating and 13 million viewers, up 59 percent and 61 percent respectively from 2013 when the games were only on NFL Network.