NFL makes enormous 'Thursday Night Football' deal with NBC and CBS

The NFL's popularity by the numbers
The NFL's popularity by the numbers

"Thursday Night Football" just got a lot more expensive for networks to broadcast.

CBS and NBC have agreed to pay roughly $450 million combined each year to air Thursday night games over the next two years, a person with direct knowledge of the deal said Monday. Each network will broadcast five Thursday night games each season.

That works out to $45 million per game and a total of $900 million over the life of the deal.

The Thursday Night Football package will grow to 10 games in 2016 and 2017 from eight games in 2014 and 2015, the league announced Monday.

The NFL Network will continue to simulcast the games being aired on CBS and NBC.

The NFL continues to have a unique hold over the television industry. With the new deal, the league is once again upping the price of its programming. CBS's deal for eight games this season was reportedly worth $300 million, or $37.5 million per game.

The broadcasters offset these steep licensing fees through ads, TV subscriber fees and other sources of revenue.

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Thursday Night Football will have a home on NBC and CBS thanks to a deal reached between the networks and the NFL on Monday.

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The NFL isn't finished extracting revenue from Thursday nights. The league is going to sell streaming rights to the games separately, rather than including them in the deal with CBS and NBC.

"The NFL is in active discussions with prospective digital partners for OTT [digital] streaming rights," the league said. "A deal announcement is expected in the near future."

Yahoo, YouTube, Amazon, and Facebook are some of the logical possibilities for a streaming partnership. The NFL worked with Yahoo to stream one game last fall.

CBS's game will kick off first next season while NBC will hold its first "Thursday Night Football" game on November 17.

CBS's primary announcing team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms will continue to call Thursday night games. As for NBC, the "Sunday Night Football" announcing team of Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels will do play-by-play for the network's Thursday night broadcasts.

"We are continuing to make Thursday Night Football bigger and better," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.

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Goodell added that the league is looking "forward to expanding with a digital partner for what will be a unique tri-cast on broadcast, cable, and digital platforms."


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