ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS & Turner Bidding for NFL 'Thursday Night Football'

Categories: Broadcast TV,Uncategorized

Written By

January 20th, 2014

Thursday Night Football Logo

Could The Big Bang Theory or Scandal move from their familiar Thursday night timeslots next season? According to The Hollywood Reporter, ABC and CBS have both submitted bids to the NFL to air Thursday Night Football. NBC, and FOX, whose Thursday night lineups have struggled this season are also in the running, along with Turner Broadcasting.The NFL is offering a one year deal for a package of 6 to 8 Thursday night games.

  • Ryan Schwartz


    The Big Bang Theory is the number one comedy on television. To assume it only has 2 more seasons left is preposterous.

  • Rich

    I have another option:

    Keep them on cable and divide the goods among ESPN & NFL Network and let the nets have the prime time hours back to air more actual shows. ESPN can have one division and NFL Net can have the other. The four networks can rotate the Super Bowl.

  • JayTN

    People are all assuming that these games will go to the respective broadcast network, but all four network bidders (ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC) have cable sports networks (ESPN, CBS Sports Network, Fox Sports 1 & 2 and NBC Sports Network). Since these Thursday night games are generally not important (i.e. no major market teams or games of consequence), the broadcast bidders could easily slide them over to their respective cable sports network.

    In that sense, ABC (or more appropriately, ABC’s owner Disney) doesn’t really need it. ESPN, another Disney property, already has Monday Night Football. CBS, Fox and NBC could all use the games to pump up their sports channels, especially CBS since the CBS Sports Network doesn’t really have any major sports to draw in viewers. FS1&2 has, or will have, college football and basketball games, Major League Baseball and US Open Golf. NBC Sports Network has, or will have, Olympic coverage, college football and basketball games and NASCAR races. CBS Sports Network only has college football and basketball games as well as second or third tier sports like Arena Football or bull riding. Even Turner has NCAA March Madness coverage and NBA Basketball games.

    ABC would be the only broadcast network that I could see airing Thursday Night Football on their broadcast network, but would the one-year disruption of “Grey’s Anatomy” (which continues to age and decline) and “Scandal” (which has cooled a bit from its hot sophomore season) be worth it for a temporary gain? The ratings for TNF would probably be lower than Sunday Night Football (due to the quality of the games) and may even be lower than Monday Night Football on ESPN.

  • Cory

    6 or 8 games for 1 year, it could be done if networks postpone their Thursday shows, but would audience be patient enough to wait November for new episodes.

  • JayTN

    Another reason to shift these TNF games to a cable sports network is the NFL’s desire to simulcase these games on NFL Network. Why would CBS want to air a TNF game (while bumping regular programming that gets higher ratings than TNF) when viewers can watch the same game on NFL Network.

    If the NFL was serious about TNF, they would sell the whole package (not just 6 or 8 games) and allow the winning network to have exclusive rights to the games. If the NFL insists on simulcasting these games and having an incomplete season, the “dark horse” bidder Turner Sports could end up with the rights as those caveats would seem to be unattractive to the broadcast networks.

  • Jagger Dagger

    The biggest winner is going to be the NFL.
    The price tag for getting this is going to be unbelievable especially if 2 or more networks bidding REALLY REALLY want this.

  • Kate

    Does anyone know when the winner will be announced?

  • JayTN

    CBS Sports estimates that TNF could be worth between $800 million to $1 billion depending on whether it is for only 6-8 games or a full season and whether the games will be simulcast.

    The winning bidder should be announced in the spring so if the winner is a broadcast network wanting the package for the broadcast outlet, they will have time to alter their fall schedule to make room for the games.

  • DJ

    I hope FOX gets it. The other 3 absolutely blow at football! Especially SeeBS. And NBC would no doubt let Bob Costas rant about politics during halftime. NO, thanks!

  • tested

    This story misses a key point: where the games would air. NBC and Fox may not put them on their broadcast networks. They may well want them for their fledgling national sports networks NBCSN and FS1. If they could land NFL games they could use that as leverage for higher sbscriber fees which they would then use to try to outbid ESPN for other programming. That would not be the case for the broadcast networks.

  • TED

    The networks will find a way to move shows around. The big shows like big bang won’t have a problem, but little shows on NBC could be dead on different night. Whoever the NFL picks unless it’s TNT/TBS will have the games on network TV. The whole point of this is get more people watching. The NFL isn’t going to sell it to CBS or NBC if they want to put it on sports networks that are smaller than NFLN. So if any of the 4 networks get it. Some good shows are going to have to move.

  • DenverDean

    It’s only six to eight weeks, nothing says that they are consecutive weeks either. It’s not much different from the baseball disruption on FOX.

  • DryedMangoez

    I actually think NBC would put the games on NBC Sports Network instead of NBC. Plus Fox would probably want to use the games to boost Fox Sports 1 too.

  • k:Alex

    If a network gets the game, is it possible to start at 7:30PM, so they have the best lead in for a show whole fall long?

  • PRW

    NFL likes to spread the wealth around so Turner will win this and place it on TNT to hold over until NBA.

  • Stephen

    Good point about maybe not airing games on broadcast network even if one of the broadcast networks wins the bidding war.

    My other question is does anyone know specifics of the deal the NFL is offering? Even if it’s 8 games that’s only half the weeks of NFL season and would they be at beginning of season or end?

    This may not cause any major schedule shifts even if the games do air on ABC, CBS, NBC, or FOX for the network with the games or the competitors. If the network gets the final batch of TNF games that means airing in Nov/Dec so the network with TNF would be able to premiere regular schedule in September with each show getting at least 6 episodes in and then would go on hiatus and come back in January. Might mean some November sweeps scheduling stunts by competing networks but other than that maybe not many other changes. December is repeats and/or holiday specials anyway so wouldn’t really disrupt much of the schedule.

  • Sonny

    What about the teams complaining about player injuries and time between games, this means nothing to the greed of the NFL, it will probably move to a pay cable network to squeeze consumers even more like the bandits at ESPN

  • Ram510

    Why is it that ABC doesn’t have any deals with the NFL? They haven’t had the Super Bowl in many year and they don’t get any of the regular season games as well, I don’t understand why?

  • lll

    CBS: hell no!
    ABC: maybe just maybe
    NBC: maybe just maybe
    FOX: hell yes: Football in the fall and American Idol in the spring. Their fall lineup simplied (with an extra space for wednesdays in the fall).

  • a p garcia

    I see FOX and NBC wanting it as both have equality deep pockets with odds favoring FOX, ABC & CBS as the dark horses.

© 2015 Tribune Digital Ventures