NFL Owners Table Plan To Flex Thursday Night Games for Amazon

Thursday Night Football Amazon Prime Video
(Image credit: Prime Video)

National Football League owners were unable to approve a plan to “flex” games to create better matchups for Amazon Prime’s Thursday Night Football and tabled discussions until May.

The league and Amazon want to prevent poor matchups in primetime and a proposal would have allowed games to be moved from Sunday to Thursday with 15 days notice.

NFL owners did approve letting teams play twice on Thursday nights. The prior rules let teams play only once on Thursday.

Amazon pays about $1 billion a year to the NFL to stream the exclusive national Thursday Night Football package.

Also Read: ‘Thursday Night Football’ Audience Dropped a Whopping 41% For the Season on Amazon

The NFL for years has flexed games from Sunday afternoon to Sunday night to improve matchups on NBC’s Sunday Night Football. Starting next season, ESPN will be able to flex games from Sunday to Monday Night Football late in the season.

The number of games that can be flexed is limited because Fox and CBS each can opt to protect at least one game a week from being moved from their Sunday afternoon slots.

Some owners, including New York Giants co-owner John Mara, were concerned moving games from Sunday to Thursday — and vice versa — would inconvenience fans who buy tickets for games.

The issue was addressed by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell at a press conference.

“Obviously, providing the best matchups for our fans is part of what we do,“ Goodell said. “That’s a part of what I think our scheduling has always focused on. And flex has been a part of that. We are very judicious with it, and we are very careful with it. And we look at all of the impacts to that.

"So before those decisions are made, I think we average in the years we’ve been doing it, about a flex and a half a year. It can vary any particular year,“ Goodell said. “So it’s a very important thing for us to balance with the season-ticket holders and the in-stadium audience. We have millions of fans who also watch on television. Reaching them is a balance that you always strike, and making sure we do it right.”

According to Sports Business Journal, only 18 games have been flexed for Sunday Night Football since 2014, including four last season. ■ 

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.