NFL Splits Thursday Games Between CBS, NBC

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The NFL has decided to split a 10-game package of Thursday night football games between CBS and NBC.

The leagues will be getting $450 million, up from the $350 million CBS alone paid last season for eight games, sources said.

The NFL will have a schedule of 18 games, with 10 simulcast on broadcast and eight exclusively on cable.

CBS Sports president Sean McManus said the network met its goals with the new deal.

The network's goal was to retain part of the Thursday Night franchise and to do it in a financially responsible deal, he said. "We knew almost from the outset it was going to be a split package," McManus said.

CBS preferred to have its games in the first half of the season, when it will be able to promote its fall schedule, he said.

CBS got the first half games, although the exact schedule hasn't been set.

NBC already airs Sunday Night Football, TV's highest rated series. Fox, which airs games on Sunday afternoon, was also a part of the league's request for proposal process.

The league said both CBS and NBC will produce Thursday Night Football with their lead broadcasters and production teams, and both will contribute to the production of Thursday Night Football exclusively on NFL Network. CBS and NFL Network will televise the first half of the Thursday Night Football schedule with NBC and NFL Network televising the second half.

The NFL is in active discussions with prospective digital partners for OTT streaming rights to Thursday Night Football. A deal announcement is expected in the near future, the league said.

"We are continuing to make Thursday Night Football bigger and better. CBS has played an integral role over the last two seasons in helping build Thursdays as a night for NFL football, and we're excited to have them on board again," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. "At the same time, we're thrilled to add NBC to the Thursday Night Football mix, a trusted partner with a proven track record of success broadcasting NFL football in primetime, and look forward to expanding with a digital partner for what will be a unique tri-cast on broadcast, cable, and digital platforms."

"Our mission when we first put games on Thursday nights in 2006 was to work strategically to make Thursdays a night for NFL football in the mold of what Monday and Sunday nights mean to millions of fans across the country," said Robert Kraft, Chairman of the NFL's Broadcast Committee. "We've made great strides since that point, and growing the base of games with CBS, now with NBC, and soon with digital streaming will only help us solidify this night in the consciousness of NFL fans here and globally."

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.