The NFL’s quest to make Thursday night games more popular took a big step in the right direction on Wednesday when CBS was awarded a deal to broadcast eight Thursday night contests early in the 2014 season. Those eight games will also be simulcast on NFL Network and the league’s own broadcast outlet will air eight late-season Thursday night games that will not be shown on CBS. Again, this is a great move in the right direction, but the league needs to go all-in with the Thursday night games on a national network in 2015.
Look, we all understand the business approach here: The league wants more viewers to buy its channel with their various cable and satellite packages, so it puts games exclusively on that channel. However, a lot of fans don’t watch those games because they don’t get the NFL Network in their homes and they aren’t willing (or able) to pay the extra to get it. Put simply, advertisers don’t like that and the league can get a lot more money by putting the games on a network like CBS, which everyone with a TV gets.
Thus, the league could sell the second eight-game package for the second half of the season and then a network like FOX, NBC or possibly even ABC could purchase that package and sell way more advertising for those games than NFL Network can. In that scenario, the league wins in all aspects, so one would think it’s a no-brainer.
Again, the NFL wants its little network to succeed, but it clearly isn’t working, which is why CBS will be taking half the games this year. However, those games will still be simulcast on NFL Network, so why can’t they all be that way while being primarily broadcast on a major network? Food for thought, Roger Goodell.