Over the last decade, Roger Goodell and the NFL have rolled forward with Thursday Night Football. The programming has remained a significant part of the regular-season schedule. However, Goodell and the league may have to shift their plans regarding Thursday Night Football.
History of Thursday Night Football
The NFL and Roger Goodell first made the massive move to add a Thursday Night Football game in November 2006, with the Kansas City Chiefs taking on the Denver Broncos on Thanksgiving.
It wasn’t until 2008 that the new format nearly sat alone with a lone Saturday game scheduled in the regular season. The NFL announced in 2012 during Super Bowl week that Thursday Night Football would expand from eight to 13 games aired on NFL Network.
The game’s original and primary coverage stemmed through NFL Network that has had several other network partners. From 2014-2017 CBS aired select games, while NBC went the same route from 2016-17. The league has transitioned to Prime Video showing select games since 2017, while Fox hopped aboard since 2018.
The current deal runs through 2022, which will see Fox broadcast 11 games per season in simulcast with NFL Network. Reports from ESPN suggest that Fox pays $60 million per game, which projects to an estimated $660 million per year.
However, Roger Goodell has a growing concern that the programming may come to an end after their current deal.
TV networks have little interest in Thursday Night Football
Roger Goodell and the NFL continue to roll forward with Thursday Night Football firmly entrenched as part of the regular season schedule.
The league may have to alter plans quite a bit as the programming appeal isn’t drawing strong interest. According to John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal, TV Networks have voiced that they are not interested in the Thursday Night Football package.
The reason behind the sentiment primarily comes from the coverage of the games spread across Fox, NFL Network, and Amazon. The league has operated with this approach over the last several years and may have to adjust to keep rolling forward.
The NFL has a contract with Fox that runs through 2022, while Amazon Video just renewed its multi-year deal back in April to run through that same stretch to stream games. The league is locked into the respective contracts that could extend further under additional deals.
The issue becomes that there is money lost because of the viewer’s ability to choose between the three options. That alone takes away from the overall revenue one company could gather from having the sole broadcasting rights. What hasn’t helped is the often poor slate of games with matchups that don’t exactly spark much national interest.
All this could send the NFL heading into a new direction in how they are handling the matter.
Will Roger Goodell let Thursday Night Football come to a close?
The solution to the situation may be right in front of Roger Goodell and the NFL, as any network would want sole rights to broadcast games.
That said, Ourland is currently projecting that the rights to Thursday Night Football will head to Amazon, which would share that with Network. The odds of the NFL garnering $60 million per game that Fox is paying is relatively low. The loss of Fox’s contract will hit their overall revenue, but the league would maintain the programming.
Although many players are not fans of playing a mid-week game, the league will go to extreme lengths to keep the programming due to the money it brings aboard. There is no clear-cut solution, but it’s hard to imagine that the NFL lets Thursday Night Football cease to exist.