When Fox went all in to snatch the Thursday Night Football package, it pushed to have some of its marquee late Sunday afternoon matchups moved to primetime. Now it appears that is closer to coming to fruition. Fox is hoping that its TNF schedule will come close to or even surpass Sunday Night Football as far as marquee matchups are concerned.
Later this month, when the NFL schedule is released, expect that to happen. Fox Sports President Eric Shanks told attendees at an advertising dinner last week that the TNF schedule will be stronger than in past seasons:
“We committed to the NFL that we are happy to have any of the top games from our NFC package show up on Thursday Night,” Eric Shanks, Fox Sports president, chief operating officer and executive producer, told the crowd.
In addition, the NFL will relax rules that required TNF matchups be made of teams in the same time zone. So with Fox also being the home of the strong NFC package, expect to see the Dallas Cowboys play its East Division rivals like the New York Giants, Philadelphia or Washington. And the Cowboys could even play on consecutive Thursday nights.
Fox will air 11 Thursday night games as well as produce an additional seven games that will air on NFL Network.
The plans are to make Thursday Night Football a showcase. One other note that came out of the advertising dinner, that the Thursday Night Football pregame show will be produced from New York with Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long and Michael Strahan among the cast.
Shanks says there will be fewer advertising breaks allowing for less interruptions making for a better pace of play.
Fox hopes these tweaks to Thursday Night Football will bring more viewers and also change the negative perception of the package. We’ll see if the changes will work or if viewers will reject them.