The NFL announced that it is expanding Thursday Night Football in 2016 and 2017, continuing its partnership with CBS, and also adding NBC as a partner.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Leslie Moonves, President and CEO, CBS Corp., and Steve Burke, CEO, NBC Universal announced the deal, in which CBS and NBC will each broadcast five Thursday Night Football games. The deal increases the number of Thursday night games that will appear on network television to 10 in 2016 and 2017, up from eight in 2014 and 2015.
Thursday Night Football games on CBS and NBC will be simulcast on NFL Network, with CBS and NFL Network televising the first half of the schedule, and NBC and NFL Network televising the second half.
NFL Network will exclusively broadcast another eight regular-season Thursday games, late-season Saturday games and additional games to be determined.
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.
The NFL is also in active discussions with prospective digital partners for over-the-top streaming rights to Thursday Night Football. The league expects to announce a deal in the near future.
“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 Commissioner 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.”
“The CBS Corporation and the CBS Television Network are extremely pleased to continue our successful partnership with the NFL on Thursday nights,” said Moonves. “Thursday Night Football has provided extremely valuable programming and a powerful promotional platform to help launch CBS's primetime schedule, contributing to our standing as the perennial Number One and most-watched network. Broadcasting the first half of the Thursday Night Football schedule is a terrific way to jump start the 2016-17 television season. We look forward to another great year of the NFL on CBS on both Thursdays and Sundays.”
“The NFL has the most powerful programming on television, and we are delighted to expand our primetime schedule to 24 regular-season games,” said Burke. “Thursday Night Football is an important addition to NBC’s #1 ranked primetime lineup, and the perfect complement to our award-winning Sunday Night Football broadcast. The NFL is a terrific partner, and we could not be more pleased about expanding our relationship.”
Thursday Night Football started in 2006 with an eight-game schedule exclusively on NFL Network. In 2012 and 2013, the Thursday Night Football schedule had grown to 13 games, also exclusively on NFL Network. In 2014 and 2015 seasons, CBS partnered with NFL Network to present an expanded 16-game schedule.
The 16 Thursday Night Football games on CBS and NFL Network in 2015 averaged a 7.9 rating and 13 million viewers— up more than 59 percent and 61 percent, respectively, from 2013 when the games were exclusively on NFL Network.
The 2015 season was the most-watched and highest-rated Thursday Night Football season ever.