The Big Bang Theory, a ratings titan for CBS, will now need to clear some space for the NFL on Thursday nights this fall. CBS and the NFL announced the agreement on Wednesday, whereby the network will broadcast eight games on Thursday nights during the first half of the NFL season. The immensely popular The Big Bang Theory, along with other Thursday night shows, will be forced to relocate to other nights of the week until early November, when the regular Thursday night lineup would presumably commence once more.
CBS reportedly shelled out between $250 million and $300 million for this much sought after contract, outbidding the likes of NBC, Fox, ESPN and TBS for the rights to this lucrative property. The games will also continue to broadcast on the NFL Network simultaneously, and the contract is for the 2014 season, with a league option for an additional year.
It may seem counterproductive for the network to tamper with The Big Bang Theory and the Thursday night lineup in general. The formula has clearly been a successful one for CBS, but network CEO Leslie Moonves sees it as more of an opportunity. “This is about making a strong night even stronger,” Moonves explained. “This adds 32 great hours at a pretty reasonable price.”
It is difficult to argue with this logic, as the NFL is a highly marketable product, and a show such as The Big Bang Theory should remain popular even on a different night. Only two of the eight games will air before the new fall television season begins, so the overall effect on programming should not be that significant. Moonves has suggested the new deal with the NFL will offer the chance to possibly use The Big Bang Theory on different nights for a while in an effort to enhance the audience of other shows on the network.
Apparently, the opportunity to further the network’s relationship with the NFL also played a role in the decision to make a play for the Thursday night games. “This was about helping to build the NFL brand on Thursday nights and the NFL Network,” Moonves said. “This was about putting those games on a broadcast network.”
While The Big Bang Theory is currently the most popular comedy on television, its Thursday night cohorts, including shows such as The Millers and The Crazy Ones, may not fare as well with the temporary lineup shift. CBS seems confident with this additional NFL acquisition, but it remains to be seen how things will shake out overall.