FOX Paying Big Money For Rights to Thursday Night Football Package

Friday, 02 Feb, 2018

Thursday nights have become football nights for a lot of Americans. CBS and NBC paid a combined $450 million for 10 games last season, and Fox's bid was higher this time around, people familiar with the matter said.

The deal comes at a time when the NFL's expensive television rights are not meeting expectations when it comes to networks' return on investment.

The networks anxious that the Thursday prime-time games contributed to over-saturation that was a factor in declining pro football ratings overall.

A general view of a Fox Sports camera operator in action during a game between the Carolina Panthers and Detroit Lions on October 8, 2017, at Ford Field in Detroit.

Thursday night games have been something of a neglected afterthought for the league. The deal is valued at $550 million annually. Calling TNF would give Johnson and Klatt the rare Thursday/Saturday night double, and would certainly raise their profile, but would having the duo split their attention between the NFL and college football diminish their quality? For NBC, it's Al Michaels (or Mike Tirico) and Cris Collinsworth.

Sources say the contract - which entitles Fox to broadcast 11 games on Thursday each season from Week 4 to Week 15, not including Thanksgiving night - is worth an average of more than $660 million a year.

"These opportunities come very infrequently", said Peter Rice, president of 21st Century Fox, on a media call Wednesday. Yes, the NFL season kicks off on a Thursday, but that's a "Sunday Night Football" production, which belongs to NBC. "At the same time, we look forward to continuing our terrific long-term partnership with the National Football League on Sunday afternoons, with more than 100 games per season including next year's Super Bowl 53". The contests will be simultaneously broadcast via NFL Network and in Spanish on Fox Deportes. Those games will be simulcast on NFL Network and a digital partner still to be named. The NFL Network, however, will exclusively televise seven games in 2018. The NFL had nine of TV's 10 most-watched programs in 2017. The 2017-18 FOX NFL regular season came to a close with AMERICA'S GAME OF THE WEEK averaging 22,745,000 viewers which ranks as televisions No. 1 show for the ninth straight year.

Kenny Albert/Ronde Barber Kenny Albert was once on the "B" team with Daryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa, forming the famed "Kenny, Moose, and Goose" show, but he's been on the "C" for the last few seasons. Furthermore, NBC's Sunday Night Football was #1 in primetime this fall for the seventh consecutive year.

The Thursday night package was previously negotiated annually. The deal will mean a boost to Fox's primetime ratings - even with the recent ratings dip for the NFL.