BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (CBSNewYork/AP) — No surprise here: Thursday night NFL games aren’t going anywhere — at least for five more years.
Fox and the NFL announced Wednesday they have agreed to a five-year deal for Thursday games. ESPN reported that the deal is worth an average of $660 million a year.
Those games previously were televised by CBS and NBC, two of the league’s other network partners. But Fox announced Wednesday that it will televise 11 games between weeks 4 and 15, with simulcasts on NFL Network and Fox Deportes.
Fox, which has the Sunday afternoon NFC package, will produce all of the games.
“This is a single-partner deal. We are not splitting the package,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said. “We had tremendous amount of interest from all the broadcast partners, all of whom wanted it exclusively. We felt this was the best opportunity for the NFL to grow the Thursday night package.”
Goodell added the league is exploring partnerships with digital outlets, also in conjunction with Fox.
The NFL has broadcast deals “five years out” with its other partners — ESPN has the Monday night package — so five years on this agreement made sense.
“Fundamentally, Fox was built on football,” said Peter Rice, the president of 21st Century Fox, noting that 25 years ago, the NFC package “helped launch a fledgling network into what it is today.”
“These opportunities come along very, very infrequently,” he added. “You either have the rights to the most-watched content in media or you don’t. If you don’t take the opportunity, this won’t come up again for five years. We believe in buying the very best rights, and the best rights are the NFL.”
Thursday night games have been widely criticized for being poorly played because coaching staffs have less time to game-plan and players have less time to recover from the previous Sunday’s game. Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman wrote an essay for The Players Tribune in 2016 calling Thursday night games a “poopfest.”
“The NFL preaches player safety,” Sherman wrote. “The league says it wants to do everything in its power to protect its players. But when it comes down to it, it’s not the players that the NFL protects.
“It’s the Shield.
“Like I’ve said before, the NFL is a bottom-line business,” Sherman added. “As long as fans are tuning in and advertisers are paying to be featured on ‘Thursday Night Football,’ it’s not going anywhere.
CBS and NBC each paid $450 million for the previous two-year package.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)