The Thursday night football schedule is coming to CBS this fall. The Inquisitr reported back in January that the contract for the weekday games was up for sale. Night games are a huge draw for broadcast networks like NBC, who gets 21.5 million viewers on Sunday nights. ESPN sees about 13.7 million viewers on their Monday Night Football.
Thursday Night Football has been exclusively shown by the NFL Network since its inception in 2006. A decision was made this year to open up the bidding wars to all the major broadcast networks and ESPN to give a chance to allow the Thursday NFL games to get more exposure. CBS eventually won the bidding war as was announced on Wednesday.
The NFL and CBS have had a longstanding relationship, featuring games on Sundays since the 1950’s. In the mid 1990’s, CBS lost out on a bidding war with FOX and lost the right to show games. In 1998, they won the NFL’s AFC contract and began televising games again. This victory over the other networks is sure to boost Thursday night ratings for CBS.
There will be a total of 16 games will be scheduled for this fall, all produced by CBS. Eight of the games will be simulcast on the network and NFL’s flagship station. The other eight games will be solely shown by the NFL Network. Two of the late season games will actually be featured on Saturday night, leading up to the playoffs.
Thursday Night Football will share analysts between the two networks, switching off on pre-game, halftime, and post-game. Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, who are currently the top Sunday commentators, will call all of the Thursday NFL games scheduled.
Some television fans are concerned about what will happen to their regularly scheduled programming this fall. Big Bang Theory regularly wins the Thursday night ratings wars. The comedy has excelled in its weekly spot. Fortunately, the timing and placement of the NFL’s agreement with CBS allows the network to roll out their hit comedy a little later in the season. No one will hardly notice. At least that’s what CBS hopes.
The agreement brings in major dollars for the NFL. Thursday Night Football had gained traction through the NFL Network, but a broadcast audience will only multiply viewership. Roger Goodell shared the mentality of the NFL’s decision to open up their scheduling, “Our goal is to bring these games to more fans on broadcast television with unprecedented promotion and visibility for ‘Thursday Night Football’ on CBS.”
There is a good chance that Thursday Night Football on CBS could beat out Monday Night Football on ESPN. But can they compete with Sunday Night Football on NBC?