NFL, FOX Sports reach 'Thursday Night Football' 5-year deal

by Sophie Craig February 2, 2018, 0:19
NFL, FOX Sports reach 'Thursday Night Football' 5-year deal

Today, Fox Sports announced its new five-year deal with the National Football League for television rights to 11 regular-season Thursday night games per year, starting in the fall with the upcoming 2018 season.

According to Sports Business Daily, FOX bid $550 million per year through 2022 for the "TNF" rights, significantly more than the combined $450 million CBS and NBC paid in 2016 and '17.

FOX will broadcast 11 Thursday night games after Week 4 for the next five seasons, and those games will also air on NFL Network.

Goodell added that the league is exploring partnerships with digital outlets, also in conjunction with Fox.

CBS paid $37.5 million per contest for eight games during the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

Thursday Night Football (presented by Bud Light, dilly dilly) ranks in the top five for viewership across all programs and was the No. 2 show in primetime last season.

The deal is reportedly valued at $660 million annually. It is a sort of appetizer before the big games that come up on Sunday.

Fox was one of several major networks to submit a bid for Thursday Night Football rights.

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FOX Sports is the umbrella entity representing 21st Century FOXs wide array of multi-platform US-based sports assets.

Plus the Thursday night ratings were sinking.

"You either have the rights to the most-watched content, or you don't", Peter Rice, president of 21st Century Fox, said on a conference call announcing the agreement.

In 2017, Thursday Night Football averaged around 13.5 million viewers (including streaming) per week.

It seemed inevitable that CBS and NFL would wash their hands of primetime football, given the sport's growing price tag and lagging ratings over the last two seasons. Despite the drop in NFL ratings, Nielsen data shows that the 20 of the 30 highest-rated shows on television in 2017 were football games.

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

The announcement of the deal comes less than two months after 21st Century Fox's announcement of a planned sale of assets to Walt Disney Co. for $52.4 billion, including its regional sports networks, cable channels FX and National Geographic, movie and TV studio, and global assets.

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