It’s pretty much the weakest annual slate of primetime games around the NFL world. “Thursday Night Football” has left a lot to be desired in terms of quality games. Players have been outspoken about playing on a short week. The product has been impacted big time.
Now, it’s possible that “Thursday Night Football” could soon be a thing of the past. The reason? Finances and interest from broadcast networks.
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NFL “Thursday Night Football” could be on the outs
“The TV networks have told the NFL that they are not interested in the ‘TNF’ package,” John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal noted in a recent column. “The lack of exclusivity is a main reason for their lack of interest, since games currently are spread across Fox, NFL Network and Amazon.”
As noted, the primary issue here is as lack of exclusivity when it comes to broadcasting “Thursday Night Football” games. As of right now, Fox has the ability to air the games in concert with NFL Network and Amazon and is paying a whopping $60 million per game. The current Fox contract expires following the 2022 season.
Currently, Fox is more interested in extending its Sunday package. Meanwhile, ESPN would not even show interest in moving from “Monday Night Football” to the midweek slate. It remains if the four-letter network is intrigued by being the home for both games.
Realistically, the NFL could simply offer up the package to Amazon under its current non-exclusive format. However, the streaming service is not going to pay $60 million per game for those rights.
Could this be the end of Thursday Night Football?
All of this comes with NFL TV ratings down about 7% from a season ago. It was a major talking point early in the season, especially during the entire National Anthem protests and outgoing President Trump’s threat to boycott games.
While said decrease in ratings are not huge, the current economic climate stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic will have advertisers, networks and the NFL as a whole rethinking things moving forward.
The logical solution here would be for the NFL to end its “Thursday Night Football” experiment. Whether that happens remains to be seen.