CBS Keeps 'Thursday Night Football' for 2015
The NFL and CBS will continue their Thursday Night Football partnership for at least one more season, announcing a one-year renewal on Sunday morning.
As with the original deal signed early last year, the league holds an option for the 2016 season. Many expect the NFL to eventually seek a longer term deal like the ones it has with its other media partners.
CBS will again broadcast eight early season games that will be simulcast on the NFL Network, with the remaining eight airing solely on the league-owned network.The mix of games will feature 14 Thursday night games and a late-season Saturday doubleheader. Next season, along with the Thursday Night Football package, CBS will broadcast Super Bowl 50 on Feb. 7, 2016 from Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
The full slate of 16 regular-season games will be produced by CBS with its lead broadcasters and production team on all Thursday night games. The pregame, halftime and postgame shows will continue to feature NFL Network and CBS Sports hosts and analysts.
“I could not be more proud of the job the CBS Sports team did in conjunction with our partners at the NFL in producing, branding and positioning Thursday night football as a television destination for viewers,” said CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus. “The awareness and viewership for Thursday Night Football grew dramatically in 2014, and we look forward to continuing this trend.”
Despite many lopsided scores, the first season under the deal still managed to draw large audiences, averaging 16.5 million viewers for the seven Thursday simulcasts. Even the games that aired solely on the NFL Network were up compared to last year, averaging 8.5 million viewers.
The programming relationship between the NFL and CBS will expand to include, among other elements, the development of new programming initiatives across the various CBS and NFL platforms.
Another season of Thursday Night Football also means that CBS will delay its primetime lineup on that until October, as it did this season. The lone exception was primetime's highest-rated scripted show The Big Bang Theory, which temporarily relocated to Mondays; CBS will likely do the same for next fall.
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By Kent Gibbons