EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 13: The NFL shield is painted in gold and black after a game between the Cleveland Browns and the New York Jets  at MetLife Stadium on September 13, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The new color scheme is to commemorate this years' Super Bowl witch will be the 50th edition. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)

Will CBS and NBC lose money on Thursday Night Football? It depends

As the announcement came this week that CBS and NBC would share the rights to Thursday Night Football over the next two seasons, an article came from Business Insider that the two networks paying an estimated $225 million per season for their shares would lose money.

Citing a Morgan Stanley analyst and his figures, the article stated that CBS lost over $200 million on the last two seasons of TNF based on the rights fees, production costs and ad revenue. And over the next two seasons going forward, the networks would lose almost $375 million.

But former Broadcasting & Cable editor and Twitter executive Ben Grossman countered that article with this tweet:

There’s more value to the NFL than just the ad revenue coming into the networks. There’s the ability to promote their programming during NFL games, charge higher retransmission fees to cable and satellite providers and the lead-in to the programs that follows a game.

And while just looking at the bare bones, it does appear the networks would be at a deficit, the ratings justify the networks paying the increased rights fees to the NFL. From the demographics of live NFL games, the networks feel that the price is right and are willing to pay to keep them.

CBS and NBC saw the value of having NFL games after both networks lost the rights to the league in 1994 and 1998, respectively. And it’s why they were willing to fight to get games back with different packages in 1998 and 2005.

The networks may lose money, but they can find ways to offset the costs and justify the value of airing them rather than not.

Ken Fang

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013. He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television. Fang celebrates the three Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.